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Full text of "William Winston Seaton of the "National intelligencer". A biographical sketch"

I 



V 



WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON 

OF THE "NATIONAL INTELLIGENCER." 

WITH PASSINa NOTICES OF HIS ASSOCIATES 
AND FRIENDS. 




BOSTON: 
JAMES R. OSGOOD AND COMPANY, 

Late Ticknor & Fields, and Fields, Osgood, & Co. 
I 8 7 I. 






Co 



W* 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1S71, 

BY JAMES R. OSGOOD & CO., 

in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 



University Press: Welch, Bigelow, & Co., 
Cambridge. 



1 



PREFACE 



P1HE following pages are simply extracts from a 
•*- memoir of Mr. Seaton, written for his family, to 
3 preserved for his descendants, that they may know 
im as he lived, — his domestic and social surround- 
ings, — and understand in a degree the love and honor 
that hedged about his living steps. His name is still 
a household word by many a hearthstone, and it has 
been thought that these recollections of him, his home 
and virtues, may be acceptable to those of his country- 
men who yet cherish his memory. This sketch does 
not venture within the domain of politics ; still less, 
assume to be a history of Gales and Seaton, ample 
materials for which were placed in the hands of the 
I late Edward William Johnston, the brilliant journalist, 
who was for a series of years literary editor of the 
National Intelligencer, and whose knowledge of public 
men and events, the rise and decline of political parties, 
and his personal friendship for Mr. Seaton and Mr. 
Gales, pre-eminently fitted him for the task. His 



IV 



PREFACE. 



death frustrated this design, which, however, it is 
hoped will yet be accomplished by a competent pen, 
and an essential -chapter of our political history pre- 
served for posterity. 



Washington, July 15, 1870. 



WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 



ME. SEATON was lineally descended from that 
historic family whose name during many cen- 
turies has been inwoven with the annals of Scotland. 
There were few surnames in Scotland previous to the 
reign of Malcolm Canmore, who bestowed on the gal- 
lant gentlemen of his time especial surnames after that 
of their land. Among those so distinguished was one 
Dougall, the founder of the Seaton family, whose pat- 
ronymic was thus derived from the possession of lands 
and a town hard upon the sea. The silvery Firth of 
Forth nearly encircles this beautiful and widespreading 
domain, where yet stand the stately home, the ancient 
toun, and the venerable collegiate church of Seaton. 

Devoted adherents of the exiled Stuarts, for whose 
throne and restoration they had stanchly fought and 
unceasingly striven, the Seatons opposed the Prince 
of Orange, making themselves peculiarly obnoxious 
to the government by their complicity in the Jaco- 
bite schemes for its overthrow. Finally, convinced 
of the futility of any further resistance to the meas- 
ures and authority of William III., Henry, the eldest 
son of John Seaton, of Gair-miltoun in East Lothian 
or Haddington, with a number of other gallant Scotch 



6 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

loyalists, or rebels, as they were dubbed by the Orange 
party, sought refuge, in 1690, in the colony of Virginia. 
Henry Seaton settled first in Gloucester County, on 
the Pyanketank, where for some years he continued 
to reside, during which period he married Elizabeth 
Todd, daughter of a gentleman of standing in the same 
county. 

Mr. George Fitzhugh, of Rappahannock, — a gentle- 
man remarkable for his wit and abstruse learning, — in 
his valuable papers on the " Valleys of Virginia," quotes 
Bishop Meade's list of the early justices and vestry- 
men, — at that time offices of mark, — among whom 
in Petworth parish is named Henry Seaton, and says : 
"None but men of substance and consideration were 
made vestrymen, and the reader will find that the de- 
scendants of these gentlemen have retained their high 
social position. Mr. Seaton, of the Intelligencer, is a 
great-grandson of the Seaton mentioned above, having 
been born in the adjoining County of King William, 
at an old ancestral seat. His family is of the Scotch 
Seatons." Henry Seaton subsequently removed to an 
estate on the Mattapony, which for several gener- 
ations continued to be the home of his descendants, 
and where in If 11 was born his only child, George 
Seaton. 

By a deed a century and a half old, in possession of 
the family, " An Indenture Tripartite, made in the first 
year of the reign of our most gracious Sovereign Lord 
and King, George the Second, between Colonel Tayloe, 
George Seaton, only son and heir of Henry Seaton, 
and Elizabeth his wife, now wife of Augustine 
Moore, gentleman," we learn that Henry Seaton's 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 7 

widow had re-married. Among the children of this 
second alliance was Annie Moore, afterwards the wife 
of Charles Carter, who purchased the estate of Shirley, 
by which designation himself and numerous descend- 
ants of his prominent family have been since well 
known in Virginia, and whose ancestress was thus 
Mrs. Henry Seaton. 

In 1734 George Seaton married Elizabeth, daughter 
of " Leonard Hill, of King William, gentleman," and 
seems to have maintained the family dignity, holding 
large properties in Spottsylvania, besides the paternal 
estate, which, at his death in 1750, he bequeathed to 
his son Augustine. By the " inventory of the estate," 
still in possession of the family, we get an interesting 
glimpse of the belongings and "habit as he lived," 
of a gentleman of fortune in colonial times. There, 
" three dozen gilt coat buttons " of the courtly flowing 
suit, do not disdain contact with " three pounds of shoe- 
thread," with which doubtless to repair the "high 
heeled pumps " ; while homely " stone porringers and 
earthen pipkins " are neighbors to the aristocratic " sil- 
ver table service and caudle cup." "Two spinning 
wheels " speak pleasantly of stately dames in pinner 
and kerchief, -notably engaged, seated the while in the 
" large high-backed leathern chairs " ; and the impos- 
ing culinary array, and still more significantly the 
" stone, china, glass, and silver punch-bowls," conjure up 
a vivid picture of the generous hospitality of that old 
Virginia household. The folio family Bible, Burkett's 
commentaries on' the Testament, and "ye morning 
exercise for communicants," are in startling propin- 
quity with Ovid's Epistles, Caesar's Commentaries, Cor- 



8 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

nelius Nepos and Ovid's Metamorphoses. But more 
vividly suggestive still are the items, " one hanger, one 
swivel, one hauberk and breastplate ! " 

What visions of plumed cavaliers and grisly round- 
heads cluster about the words of this old deed ! Not 
very many years agone, and the father of this quiet 
country gentleman in the New World had defied " silent 
William," had kissed the hand of his exiled Stuart 
king, perhaps bent his knee in the presence of the 
Grand Monarque. That hauberk may have shown 
brightly in the morning rays on Marston's fatal moor, 
— the breastplate, dull and dented, have covered a sad 
heart as the sun set on Worcester's bloody field. 

In 1741 Elizabeth, daughter of George Seaton, mar- 
ried " John West of York Eiver, gentleman," a scion 
of a noble British house, being a direct descendant 
from father to son of Lord De la Warre, the gor- 
geous colonial governor of Virginia. The Wests are a 
family of great historical distinction. They have been 
Barons from the male line since the year 1342 ; their 
ancestor, Sir Thomas West, having for great valor in 
the wars been summoned to Parliament as Lord West, 
early in the reign of Edward III. His son, the sec- 
ond Baron, shared in the glories of Crecy. The ninth 
Baron, having no issue, adopted his nephew William, 
who, impatient to inherit, prepared poison for his 
uncle, which so enraged his Lordship that he com- 
plained to Parliament, and the over-hasty William 
was disabled from succeeding to the estates. The too 
fiery youth, however, served so gallantly in Picardy 
as to efface the stain of his ill-timed exploit ; and by 
act of Parliament he was restored to the full honors 



A BIOGKAPHICAL SKETCH. 9 

of his House. It was his grandson, the Earl De la 
Wane, who in 1610 was appointed "governor for life" 
of Virginia, being accompanied by a number of stately 
nobles, his appointments far better fitted, for a luxu- 
rious court than the wilds of the "plantations." 

Upon the Earl's departure from America, his mission 
being relinquished by reason of ill-health, his second 
son, the Honorable John West, remained in the colony, 
having acquired possession of an immense tract of 
land, which was inherited by his eldest son and heir, 
John. This princely estate, situated in King Wil- 
liam County, at the head of York Eiver, received the 
name of West Point, in honor of the family; and 
is now well known in connection with General Mc- 
Clellan's peninsular campaign during our late civil war. 
Here also Mr. John West established a village called 
De la Warre, — no longer in existence. Two descend- 
ants of this gentleman, S ir Thom as and Sir Francis 
West, renewed their ancestral dignity, becoming in 
turn governors of Virginia ; and thus intermarrying 
with the Dandridges, Claibornes, Byrds, Pegrams, and 
other great folk of that day, the family continued 
in high esteem. West Point, being strictly entailed, 
descended always to the eldest son, according to 
British law, until the revolt of the American colonies, 
at which period it was in the possession of Colonel 
John West of York, who married Miss Elizabeth 
Seaton, respecting which distinguished lady a descend- 
ant writes : " My grandmother, Mrs. West, the aunt of 
the late beloved Colonel Seaton, was born in the neigh- 
borhood of West Point, on her paternal estate. I re- 
member her quite well, as very handsome, exceedingly 
l* 



10 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

dignified and imposing in appearance, with a courteous 
demeanor like the stately Virginia ladies of the olden 
time." A magnificent silver urn and a rare India 
china bowl, the latter during many generations the 
christening chalice of the heirs apparent of the De la 
Warres, are now among the family relics in possession 
of Mrs. Walter Brooke of Washington, having been 
brought to this country by her great-great-grandfather, 
Sir Thomas West ; and, so precious was the porcelain 
heirloom, that when broken, a hundred years ago, it 
was sent to England to be repaired with bands of 
silver. After the Eeyolution, the law of entail being 
set aside, the estate of MVest Point was divided among 
the several children of Mr. John West and Elizabeth 
Seaton, his wife. Their elder son, Thomas, married 
Miss Boiling, a direct descendant from the Princess 
Pocahontas, but left no issue. The younger son, Mr. 
John West of Norfolk, left two sons, one of whom, 
De la Warre Seaton West, died in the Confederate 
service in 1863 ; the other, Mr. Thomas Boiling West, 
being now the lineal male representative in this coun- 
try of the great English Viceroy of Virginia. 

In 1776 Mr. Augustine Seaton, son of George 
Seaton, married Mary, daughter of Samuel Winston, 
Esquire, of Louisa County, Virginia. Two hundred 
years ago, five brothers Winston, of Winston Hall, 
Yorkshire, England, gentlemen of fortune and family, 
emigrated to the colony in the spirit of adventure 
which led so many scions of good houses to accom- 
pany the early governors to the New World. These 
brothers, all men of great stature and uncommonly 
handsome, — so tradition and family portraits assert, — 



.A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 11 

and well endowed morally and intellectually, settled in 
Hanover County, stocking Virginia with a stalwart 
and prolific race, the offshoots founding fresh branches 
in Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina, in 
which States at this day their representatives are 
noted for their fine personal presence. One fair 
Winston matron presented to the nation three sons 
at a birth, who each one attained to over six feet of 
superb manhood. But the name which most brilliantly 
illuminates the Winston family record is that of the 
immortal Patrick Henry. 

Colonel John Henry, a native of Aberdeen, Scotland, 
and nephew of the historian Eobertson, came to this 
country in quest of fortune, enjoying the patronage 
and friendship of Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia, by 
whom he was introduced to Colonel Syme of Hanover, 
whose wife was Miss Sarah Winston, in whose family 
he became domesticated, and whose widow he sub- 
sequently married, continuing to reside on the family 
estate of Studleigh, where their son Patrick Henry 
was born. 

The great orator seems to have been another ex- 
emplification of the theory that genius is usually 
derived from the mother. " The family of Winston," 
says Mr. Sparks, " was among the most distinguished 
of the colony ; and, so far as the eloquence of Patrick 
Henry may be supposed hereditary, it seems to have 
been transmitted through the female line." Wirt 
says : " She possessed in an eminent degree the mild, 
benevolent disposition, the undeviating probity, the 
correct understanding and easy elocution, by which 
that ancient family has so long been distinguished. 



12 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

Her brother William, popularly called Langaloo, the 
father of the present Judge Winston, is said to have 
been highly endowed with that peculiar cast of 
eloquence for which his great nephew was celebrated." 
" I have often heard my father/' says Mr. Nathaniel 
Pope, " who was intimately acquainted with William 
Winston, say that he was the greatest orator whom he 
had ever heard, Patrick Henry excepted : that during 
the French and Indian war, after Braddock's defeat, 
when the militia were marched to the frontier against 
the enemy, William Winston was lieutenant ; that the 
men, indifferently clothed, without tents, and exposed 
to the rigor and inclemency of the weather, discov- 
ered great aversion to the service, and, clamoring to 
return to their families, were on the point of 
mutiny,, when Winston, mounting a stump, — the 
rostrum of the field orator in Virginia, — addressed 
them with such keen invective, and declaimed with 
such eloquence on liberty and patriotism, that the 
troops cried out : " Lead us on L lead us against the 
enemy ! " Judge Winston, the son of this military 
Demosthenes who had thus opportunely proved his 
descent from a rhetorical race, at the death of his 
oousin Patrick Henry, intermarried with his widow, 
a daughter of Nathaniel Dandridge, Esq. 

The fiery spirit, which, breathing through the burn- 
ing words of Henry, lighted the flame of rebellion 
throughout the colonies, the love of liberty which 
glowed in his soul, were shared by others of his kindred, 
who also devoted " fortune and sacred honor " to their 
country's cause ; his seven cousins, sons of Mr. Samuel 
Winston, being ardent patriots and actively prominent 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 13 

in the contest against Farmer George ; one of them 
especially, Colonel Joseph Winston, winning great re- 
nown for his gallant services throughout the Bevolu- 
tion. Colonel John Campbell of Abingdon, in prepar- 
ing his " Memoir of the Military Transactions of West 
Virginia," says : " In the unique affair of King's 
Mountain Colonel Winston played a very conspicuous 
part. He led the right wing of the American forces, 
and bore a distinguished part in this Bunker Hill of 
the South, contributing greatly to that momentous 
victory, of which the battles of Cowpens and Guilford 
were among the consequences. Mr. Jefferson, in a 
letter now before me, says that he remembered well 
the deep and grateful impression made by that mem- 
orable victory. It was the joyful enunciation of the 
first turn in the tide of success that terminated the 
war with the seal of our independence." 

Mary, the youngest sister of these gallant Winston 
brothers, became the wife of Mr. Augustine Seaton, and 
the mother of William Winston Seaton, who was 
born January 11, 1785, and in whom were fitly con- 
centred the mingled high qualities of the brave stock 
from which he sprang. 

Chelsea, the ancestral home, — since passed into the 
sixth generation on the mother's side, — is one of the 
most ancient houses in Virginia, its brick having 
been imported from England ; and it is still, despite 
the dilapidations of two revolutions, an imposing and 
stately residence. Here were the graves of young 
Seaton's forefathers ; and within the venerable mansion 
were gathered cherished Old- World family relics, with 
worm-eaten wills and musty parchments, while on the 



14 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

walls were the portraits of his progenitors of a century 
and a half. One of these, representing a superb 
cavalier in the elaborate scarlet hunting-garb of his 
day, gun in hand, leaning on his horse, his dogs 
crouched at his feet, his bugle raised as if to wind a 
" mote," had suffered damage during some Kevolution- 
ary skirmish, an unfortunate bullet having whistled 
through the canvas, destroying one of the blue eyes 
of the handsome Mmrod ; and this pictured hunter, 
captivating the boyish fancy of young Seaton, gave 
doubtless the first impulse to his well-known passion 
for field sports, which he continued to pursue with 
zest when nearly fourscore years of age. 

Under the paternal roof passed young Seaton's 
childhood, in the happy companionship of brothers 
and sisters, his tastes refined by gentle maternal in- 
fluences, his intelligence quickened by the noted 
society frequenting his father's hospitable home, 
which numbered among its cherished guests the 
illustrious Patrick Henry. Mr. Seaton ever retained 
a vivid remembrance of the fascinating speech, 
wonderful play of countenance, and commanding 
presence of his great kinsman, who, himself a devoted 
follower of the hounds, guided the first shot of his 
young relative, whose proverbial skill, thus acquired 
in chasing the deer through the wild woods on the 
Mattapony, received sixty years afterwards enthusiastic 
recognition among the " preserves " of England. 

A domestic tutor directed the youth in the earlier 
paths of learning, until he reached in Eichmond what 
was then the culminating academic polishing of Ogilvie 
the Scotchman, " whose Earldom of Finlater slept while 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 15 

its heir was playing pedagogue in America A great 

enthusiast by nature, and a master of the whole art 
of discoursing finely of even those things which he 
knew not well, he dazzled much, pleased greatly, and 
obtained a high reputation ; . . . . infusing into his 
pupils by the glitter of his accomplishments a high 
admiration for learning and for letters." * With young 
Seaton this was no difficult task ; for an absorbing de- 
light in reading had been one of his earliest developed 
tastes ; and in his father's solid library his opening 
mind was nourished on wholesome pabulum, forming 
the foundation of the liberal, wide-embracing culture 
for which he was in after life distinguished. His 
father, a gentleman noted for his high-toned bearing, 
winning manners, and strong good sense, died suddenly 
at West Point, the residence of his sister, Mrs. John 
West of York. 

At the early age of eighteen Mr. Seaton's mind was 
matured, his ambition aroused, his vocation decided, 
and he passed into the arena of public life, entering 
with manly earnestness upon the career of political 
journalism, of which he was one of the country's pio- 
neers, and which his well-won fame and social distinc- 
tion crowned with honor. Mr. Seaton made his first 
essay in the field of politics as assistant editor of a 
Richmond journal, having already acquired a practical 
knowledge of " the art preservative of all arts " in the 
same office with that master of Virginia journalism, 
Thomas Eitchie, the early personal friendship thus 
formed surviving forty years of wide divergence in polit- 
ical sentiment and action. Our youthful editor, by his 

* Atlantic Monthly, 1860. 



16 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

talent for ready expression, his force of character and 
fairness of discussion amid party heat, soon made his 
mark, and won an invitation to take charge of a more 
prominent journal in Petersburg, then edited by Colo- 
nel Yancey, who, " one of the most discerning men of 
the day, predicted a glorious future for young Seaton, 
advising him to strike for that fame he so nobly won 
and carried with him to an honored grave." 

In the midst of unqualified success and personal 
popularity Mr. Seaton was called on a friendly errand 
to Ealeigh, which chance visit proved to be the event 
by which his whole future life was influenced. 

Little more than half a score of years had passed 
since Colonel Jack Lane of Halifax, on the Eoanoke, 
had presented the* site of the " City of Oaks " to the 
State. This gentleman had been a member of the 
Provisional Convention, which met at Hillsborough 
in 1775, in defiance of the proclamation of Governor 
Martin forbidding the assemblage " in the heart of the 
Province of a body of men with the purpose of ex- 
tending more widely the traitorous and rebellious de- 
signs of the enemies of His Majesty " ; and denouncing 
the address of the Mecklenburg Committee as " a pub- 
lication the preposterous enormity of which cannot be 
adequately described and abhorred." To which the 
convention responded by a resolution, that the Gov- 
ernor's Proclamation should be burned by the common 
hangman, as " a false, scandalous, scurrilous, mischiev- 
ous, and seditious libel." It was at the house of Colo- 
nel Lane that the General Assembly of this most re- 
bellious of Provinces met, amidst the darkest hours of 
the Eevolution. The corner-stone of the State House 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 17 

at Kaleigh had been laid by this patriot in 1792 ; and 
now, in the spring of 1806, Mr. Seaton found in the 
young capital a society refined, intelligent, simple in 
manners, unaffected in worth, a few of its members 
with the halo of the achievements of " seventy-six " 
surrounding them, others, whose names, after a lapse 
of sixty years, would be among those whom their coun- 
try will not let die. 

The household of Joseph Gales, the editor of the 
" Ealeigh Register," the most influential journal in the 
State, was presided over by a wife whose intellect and 
womanly charm, united to the inexhaustible benevo- 
lence of her husband, with the loveliness and talent of 
their children, made their home the centre of culture, 
hospitality, and refined gayety. To this circle Mr. 
Seaton brought the prestige of recent political success 
and distinguished family connection ; he had famil- 
iarly conversed with Jefferson, Marshall, Aaron Burr, 
and Patrick Henry ; possessing, moreover, an uncom- 
mon charm of manner and person, for which he had 
already been noted in Richmond, especially among the 
gentler portion of creation, by whom he was pronounced 
"the most elegant young man in Virginia." 

It was, then, in this pleasant home circle of Mr. 
Gales that Mr. Seaton's public career was to be shaped, 
and his domestic happiness to receive its crowning 
grace, — the first result springing from the friendship 
with his colleague that was to be, Joseph Gales the 
younger, — the second auspicious realization being 
secured by his successful wooing of Miss Sarah Gales, 
the sister of his future associate. 

In the spring of 1807 Mr. Seaton yielded to the 



18 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

advantageous offers and persuasions of the retiring 
editor to assume the proprietary editorship of the 
" North Carolina Journal," in the interesting old town 
of Halifax, late the State capital. Diffident of his 
ability, and singularly modest in self-appreciation, he 
accepted with hesitation the post, — a responsible one 
at this party crisis ; for in the solid " Old North State," 
as in Virginia, politics at this period moved all men to 
unwonted passion, and the position of editor was one 
of personal danger, to maintain which required alike 
a stout arm and cool head. Especially was this the 
case at Halifax, at that time noted for the violence 
with which its political waves ran, as also for the 
desperate character of its partisan leaders. But Mr. 
Seaton soon showed himself master of the situation. 
To curb this fiery opposition, to obtain from his oppo- 
nents a candid discussion of the political questions 
at issue, to charge valorously against the pure Fed- 
eralism of which that region had been heretofore the 
stronghold, and to transfer its allegiance to Republi- 
canism, were the fruits of the young editor's success- 
ful contest. 

" There can be no doubt that he who made a change 
so radical conducted his paper with spirit. Yet he 
must have done so with that wise and winning mod- 
eration and fairness which have since distinguished 
him and his associate. William Seaton could never 
have fallen into anything of the temper or the taste, 
the morals or the manners, which are now so widely 
the shame of the American press ; he could never have 
written in the ill spirit of mere party, so as to wound 
or even offend the good men of an opposite way of 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 19 

thinking. The inference is a sure one from his whole 
character." * 

Halifax, noted for the Constitutional Convention of 
1776, is an ancient town, and was, many years ago, 
the seat of elegance, wealth, and refinement. Among 
its more distinguished citizens were Willie and Gov- 
ernor Allen Jones, sons of the Attorney-General under 
the Colonial Government, who had been educated at 
Eton and Oxford, England, and were men of uncom- 
mon social talent. Willie Jones, whose daughter mar- 
ried John Eppes, the first wife of whom was a daughter 
of Thomas Jefferson, was the leader of the great ma- 
jority that declined to accept the Federal Constitution 
in 1780 at Hillsborough, and was regarded at the time 
as the exponent of Mr. Jefferson, whose disciple he 
was in religion as well as politics. He was buried on 
his estate near Ealeigh, his coffin being by his direc- 
tion placed with the head to the north. He was one 
of the earliest and most influential friends of Joseph 
Gales, and at his house in Halifax Mr. and Mrs. Gales 
paid a visit on their arrival in North Carolina. His 
style of riving was English, his hospitality genuine, 
genial, and overflowing ; but " our army swore terribly 
in Flanders," and profanity at the close of the Ameri- 
can and during the French Ee volution was general and 
fearful, of which Willie Jones was a conspicuous ex- 
ample. Mrs. Gales had the moral courage, while 
thanking him for the kindness of their reception, to 
intimate that there was but one abatement in their 
gratification, — " that profanity was not usual or pleas- 
ant to the eats of an English lady." He received the 

* Atlantic Monthly, 1860. 



.20 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

gentle reprimand in a proper spirit, and became ever 
after more guarded in expression. 

In Stokes County Mr. Seaton's uncle, Colonel Jo- 
seph Winston, of Kevolutionary celebrity, resided on 
his beautiful estate, hedged about with reverential 
pride by the old North State, whose adopted son he 
was, and which he was at that period representing in 
Congress. He was especially attached to his young 
nephew, who, in a letter to Miss Gales, thus speaks of 
a visit to his distinguished relative : — 

"My uncle lives at the most magnificent place I 
have seen in this State ; and is so obliging and atten- 
tive in his endeavors to make my visit agreeable that 
he almost distresses me. His mansion is near the 
mountains, and I am sitting enjoying a full view of 
them, — a sight so grand, so sublime, _ I never wit- 
nessed. It seems as if their ' cloud-capt ' summits 
were within a squirrel's jump of Heaven." Mr. Sea- 
ton remembered his uncle as of stately, old-school 
manners, and commanding presence ; and the portrait 
of him in possession of the family proves him to have 
inherited the proverbial Winston gift of good looks. 

A contemporary of Mr. Seaton during his residence 
at Halifax, still living at a very advanced age, thus 
speaks of him as he appeared in the bright flush of 
manhood. 

" I remember perfectly Mr. Seaton's personal ap- 
pearance at this period," writes the venerable lady ; 
" he was noble-looking, singularly handsome, with 
most prepossessing manners, of great dignity, his 
every act proving him worthy the regard of our best 
citizens. In his too brief editorial career among us 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 21 

he commanded the respect of his 'adversaries by his 
ability and high tone, while his urbanity and courtesy 
no less won their regard. But the sphere was too 
narrow for one of his talents, and he sought a wider 
field of action, to the regret of our community." 

Combining such varied and attractive qualities, it 
may readily be supposed that he speedily eclipsed all 
rivals in the generous esteem of his own sex, and in 
the appreciation of the fair daughters of Halifax. No 
gathering, whether the object would be to lead a part- 
ner in " Sir Eoger de Coverley," to follow the hounds, 
or to engage in whist and punch, was deemed complete 
unless brightened by his genial presence; but the 
social habits of that day — still such as prevailed 
in colonial times among good King George's lieges, 
when conviviality not infrequently degenerated into 
excess — were ever repugnant to Mr. Seaton's tastes. 
Not that he ascetically held aloof from the amusements 
natural to his age and position, as may be inferred from 
the memorandum in his day-book, "A rubber and 
punch last evening," — the significant entry on the 
morrow being, " For medicine, twenty-five cents." The 
sequel of some similar occasion of good-fellowship is 
narrated in the following penitential extract from a 
letter to Miss Gales : " I am astonished when I re- 
flect on my temerity in having written to you. Suf- 
fering under a headache, hypochondria, ennui, home or 
rather heart-sickness, I must have sent you a refreshing 
account of my recent perambulations and adventures. 
However, I might as well candidly attribute all my afflic- 
tions to the two primary causes, — wine and tobacco, — 
whose stupefying qualities had so entirely enervated 



22 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

the powers of my Pegasus, that I could not, for my 
life, have spurred him out of a jog-trot, although I 
was writing in college, the seat of science and erudi- 
tion, where I expected my pen would instinctively 
trace the characters of the most refined and accom- 
plished language." 

Eeplying to Miss Gales, who gently rallies him on 
his enjoyment of society while absent from her, he 
says : " So you are really apprehensive of a developed 
and determined taste for dissipation ? Although I 
sincerely deprecate such a contingency, I think there 
is some danger of it becoming inveterate. Moving 
in the region where every propensity for pleasure may 
be indulged, it would require all the philosophy of 
Lady Magdaline Montmorell to resist the fascinating 
amusements of the gay world. Still, I feel no dread 
so long as your heart remains in the right place." 
He further adds : " I am studying the parts of ' Cap- 
tain Absolute' and 'Duremil,' and hope to acquit 
myself with credit " ; by which it will be seen that 
among the profane amusements of the taste prevailing 
with the youth of Halifax was the love of stage-plays, 
in the enacting of which, we gather from' contemporary 
record, Mr. Seaton gained no slight reputation, having 
indeed achieved histrionic triumphs previously in Ra- 
leigh, in conjunction with his future brother-in-law, 
Joseph Gales the younger, their talent embracing 
rather an ambitious range of character; for at that 
primitive era ladies did not deign to tread the boards, 
and Mr. Seaton was alternately " My Lord Duberly," 
"Young Mirabel," or "Donna Violante"; while Mr. 
Gales personated " Lydia Languish," or " Miss Lu- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 23 

cretia McTab." Small was the stage, simple the 
accessories, yet among the auditors were those whose 
critical appreciation a Siddons or a Garrick might not 
have disdained to deserve. 

There sat the learned, genial Judge Gaston, who was 
equally happy in sentimental song and convivial cho- 
rus, or in racy anecdote, following, perchance, on a 
profound- and elaborate " summing up " from the 
Bench. Unbending from his usual staid reserve was 
Nathaniel Macon, " whose name has stood as a sort of 
proverb for honesty." By his side, polished, insinuat- 
ing, bewitching the hearts of gentle and simple, was 
that wily genius, Aaron Burr; while, greater still in 
his charming guilelessness, the wise and benevolent 
Chief Justice Marshall — whom, in Richmond, Mr. 
Seaton had often seen carrying in his hand from 
market the diurnal leg of mutton — undisguisedly 
wept over the woes of Jane Shore, or laughed with 
boyish glee until the tears fairly rolled down his 
cheeks, when, seated near the stage, he overheard 
the " asides " of Mr. Seaton, who, as " Frederick " in 
Colman's "Poor Gentleman," thus interpolated his 
apostrophe to the miniature of his absent love, with 
iterated threats to an obstreperous urchin perched near 
the footlights : — 

" Give me those dear bewitching features " — ( Bob, 
stop cracking those walnuts) — " where sweet expres- 
sion always speaks and sometimes sparkles," — (Bob, 
do you hear me ? ) — " Give me that dimpled beauty ! " 
— (Bob, if you don't stop cracking those walnuts I '11 
crack your d — d head ! ) 

Although thus engaging in the pleasures natural to 



24 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

his genial nature, and to which his presence lent such 
added spirit, Mr. Seaton's character and habit of 
thought were marked, even at that impulsive age, 
by a high sense of moral responsibility, a serious 
estimate of the duties of life, and a deeply-rooted 
reverence for all religious influences, which formed the 
sure foundation for the finished and gracious super- 
structure of his beneficent and rounded life. He thus 
writes of his first sorrow since manhood : — 

"Halifax, 1808. 
" .... I am confident that you participate in all 
my joys, and no less in my sorrows. You are acquainted 
with my heart, and know it to be susceptible of the keenest 
distress. Judge, then, what must be my feelings in learn- 
ing the loss of a much-loved brother When death 

deprives us of a relative, however near, whose advanced 
years impress us with the daily expectation of the most 
certain of all events, we can bear the loss at least with 
proper resignation, if not with calmness; but to i 
beloved brother snatched from us who had just started 
in the career of life, and whose amiable qualities had 
strengthened our natural love, adding respect to affec- 
tion, is more than our firmness can at first, sustain. .... 
Yet I will not repine, but endeavor to think that Heaven 
wills the death of every being that falls, and submit to its 
dispensation. 'T is fruitless, I know, to mourn a loss which 
cannot be remedied ; but what breast can smother i: - 
row or repress the tear of affection at the departure of one 
so dearly and so deservedly beloved 1 He had just arrived 
at the age of manhood. Deprived of his father before he 
could profit by his virtuous counsel, and unassisted by that 
advice which could best iustil into our minds correct prin- 
ciples, I feel proud that he advanced so far on his journey 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 25 

with honor to himself and credit to his connections. 
Thrown upon the ocean of life with no experienced 
friend to point out to him its rocks and quicksands, his 
reputation might have been wrecked ere he was aware 

of danger My venerated mother is inconsolable. 

I have done all in my power to afford alleviation to her 
affliction, and I pray Heaven it may answer my wishes. 
.... God bless you." 

"Halifax, July, 1808. 
" . . . . You have heard of the death of Mr. John 
Gilmour, a man whom I respected very highly, my first 
friend here, and who always showed me the greatest atten- 
tion. His funeral was attended by all the most respectable 
inhabitants of the. town and neighboring country. At the 
request of Mr. Burt and others, I had consented to read 
the Service. After the -body was deposited I approached the 
grave. Never did I feel so great a degree of agitation ; 
I was scarcely able to support myself, the power of utter- 
ance seemed suspended, and it was some time before I 
could command my voice sufficiently to proceed. The 
scene before me, and the solemn office I had undertaken to 
perform, impressed my mind with sensations of awe and 
reverence which I never before experienced. Never did I 
pray more fervently; every word that fell from my lips 

was breathed in a spirit of the truest devotion 

Why do you say that I consider the claims of religion in 
too light a manner 1 Are you acquainted with any acts of 
moral depravity which manifest in me the want of a proper 
sense of religion'} or is it because I have ever condemned, 
as I shall ever reject, the precepts of bigotry and fanati- 
cism 1 Every man is endowed with reason by which to 
enable him to judge of right from wrong. Mine has always 
taught me to reject that with which I could not reconcile 
it ; and if it is too weak to point out a better course, the 
2 



26 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

fault lies not with me, I am sure. Nature has implanted 
in my bosom, as in every other, a monitor, the dictates of 
which, guided by reason and reflection, I am content to 
follow; and, in so doing, am confident that I shall never 
err past forgiveness. 

"If, however, the conclusion you draw, that 'the man 
with little religion must have as little affection,' were not 
inconsistent with the supposition, I should imagine you 
were led to the remark by the knowledge that at present 
the object of my idolatry is one who (though I offend 
against the rules of gallantry), I must confess, is not a 
deity of the celestial order, but one that I shall ever wor- 
ship, and whose kindness and affection have confirmed my 
infidelity. 

" My dearest life, let no doubts of my being fully 
impressed with a reverent sense of duty to my Maker 
disturb your peace. The man whose heart is capable of 
entertaining the pure and exalted sentiment of love cannot, 
in my opinion, be destitute of religion; although, I will 
admit, his judgment may lead him into an improper con- 
ception of it." 

"Halifax, 1808. 

" . . . . I rejoice to learn that you are once more 
lodged in the peaceful bosom of your enviable family. Sur- 
rounded as you were by a crowd of adorers vying with 
each other in their devotion, and, I suppose, with their 
hearts in their hands, ready, at a smile, to cast them at 
your feet, I am surprised that yours is not reduced to a 

cinder, or perforated as a honey-comb Add to 

all this, the stentorian eloquence of G. C, endeavoring to 
impress on your mind the charms of Georgia. " I dare say, 
he wished to convince you that the croaking of frogs and 
the roaring of alligators, pouring forth their divine strains 
in heavenly concert, produce ' a concord of sweet sounds,' 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 27 

compared with which the music of the spheres is as far 
inferior as the light of a taper is to the blaze of a merid- 
ian sun. Had I known that you were driving with the 
Governor, I should have been doubly uneasy, as his con- 
founded horses have before shown a disposition to thwart 
any gracious intentions towards his Excellency. I wish 
they were in Guinea, and that I were with Mrs. G., that 

we might unite in abusing their owner a little I 

am much pleased with your intention of learning to paint, 
for several reasons : one, that I think it an elegant accom- 
plishment, and in which I delight ; another, that I wish 
my wife to excel still more than she already greatly does, 
every other woman I ever saw. I wish you would add 
geography to it I am glad that you are improv- 
ing your French ; and so confident am I of your paying a 
visit to this place, at some time, that I am preserving a 
file of French papers for your amusement. Am I not very 
considerate to begin already to provide for your pleasures 1 " 

That Mr. Seaton's services in behalf of his party 
were most acceptably performed, we may judge from 
the evidence of Mr. Atlas Jones, a prominent politi- 
cian of the day, who thus writes to the spirited young 
editor : — 

"Your journal is very much approved in Deep 
Eiver • my copy is borrowed by many gentlemen who 
take other papers, and their sentiment agrees with my 
own, that it is the best edited gazette in the State ; 
more candid, more impartial, and less fermented by the 
spirit of party. The dignity and fairness of your edi- 
torials have a powerful influence over even preju- 
diced minds, and give a steadily increasing value to 
your journal." 



28 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

Not with standing that this emphatic testimony to 
his ability and success inclined him to remain at his 
post, the specific object for which Mr. Seaton had 
assumed the editorial chair at Halifax having been 
satisfactorily achieved, he resolved to seek a wider 
sphere for his energies; and, returning to Ealeigh, 
became associated with Joseph Gales in the "Begis- 
ter," being doubtless mainly impelled to this decision 
by the sweet influences moulding his career, and which 
were destined to crown with tender joy all the future 
days of his life. 

A sketch of the history of Joseph Gales will best 
illustrate the source whence such abounding virtues 
drew their life, as were manifested in the lives of his 
children, whose ability and worth are an enduring 
monument to the excellence of their honored, stout- 
hearted father. 

The family of Gales, until illustrated by the virtues 
and well- won eminence of Joseph Gales, was unknown 
out of the simple annals of the rural home of him who 
may be called its founder ; owing the respect and con- 
sideration now investing the name to 'no fortuitous 
gifts of inheritance or remote ancestry. The name of 
Gale is a familiar one both in England and this coun- 
try, notably in the State of North Carolina, in which 
" the county of Wake, erected in 1772, perpetuates the 
maiden name of the accomplished wife of Governor 
Tryon," whose mother, Lady Wake, was Penelope Gale. 
" The name of Tryon," says Governor Swain, " has been 
expunged from the map of the State, but not from the 
memory of men ; and the unenviable fame of the royal 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. ^9 

Governor, and the good name of Penelope Gale Wake, 
are alike immortal." 

But the patronymic with the final s can be retraced 
no further than to Eichard Gales, who guided the 
youth of the ancient village of Eckington, Derbyshire, 
England, in the path of learning, and who was deemed 
a good classical scholar. 

His son Timothy — who continued in his native 
village to vary his routine of labor with the lighter 
duties of Parish Clerk — married into the family of 
Clay, well known in the West of England as Iron- 
founders/and as possessing unusual mechanical skill; 
the ingenious Henry Clay, a nephew of Mrs. Timothy 
Gales, being noted as the first manufacturer of decora- 
tive articles in papier mache ; his warerooms being 
at that time among the great attractions of Birming- 
ham, the " toy-shop of Europe." Joseph Gales always 
thought that Henry Clay of Kentucky strikingly re- 
sembled his own relatives, the English Clays, some 
of whom had emigrated to this country ; and it is not 
improbable that they and the peerless Son of the West 
sprang originally from the same stock. Timothy Gales 
was drowned at the advanced age of eighty-three, while 
attempting to cross a stream by means of a fallen tree. 

The excellent old man transmitted his virtues, ac- 
companied with but little worldly store, to his son 
Thomas. Mrs. Winifred Gales, in her autobiography, 
addressing her children, says : "If Pope's axiom be 
true, that ' an honest man 's the noblest work of God,' 
then were your paternal ancestors nobles of God's own 
making. In every relation of life they conducted them- 
selves with an admirable propriety, and were governed 



30 • WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

by an integrity that elicited the good- will and respect 
of their compeers. Your grandfather, Thomas Gales, 
was indeed an Israelite without guile ; and his that 
true nobility of soul to which wealth could add no 
distinction, rank no lustre. Your grandmother Gales 
was 'from Newport-Pagnell, Buckinghamshire; and of 
this truly excellent woman I cannot deny myself the 
pleasure, and her the justice, to say that she was wor- 
thy the ardent affection of her family, — and was, of 
all persons I ever knew, the most disinterested and 
candid ; self was omitted from her vocabulary." 

The oldest child of this estimable pair, Joseph, was 
born at Eckington, in 1761. In 1809 his venerable 
.father went to rest, which event was communicated 
to Joseph Gates, then residing in North Carolina, by 
James Montgomery, in the following letter, which is 
interesting as an expression of the undiminished affec- 
tion cherished by the amiable poet, after a separation 
of fifteen years, for his former patron and master. 

"Sheffield, October 20, 1809. 

" Dear Sir, — A letter from me is now • such a rarity, 
that the very appearance of my writing will be an omen of 
mournful tidings. Such tidings indeed I have to commu- 
nicate, but they are mingled and softened and sweetened 
with so many consolations, not vain and imaginary, but 
deep and unfailing, that you will think, with me, that there 
is at least as much cause for gratitude as for grief, when^^ 
inform you that your dear and venerable father departed 
this life, most peacefully and piously, on Saturday last. . . 
You will therefore be less shocked, though not less sorry to 
learn, that he has had the privilege of going first to his eter- 
nal home. For many months past I have with secret con- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 31 

cern perceived his decline from that florid and hearty com- 
plexion of health and vigor which marked his green old age. 
. . . . On my return from Scarboro' and Harrowgate in 
September I saw him at Eckington, and then indeed I read 
on his meek emaciated face the sentence which is passed 
upon all the living. . . On the 14th he expired as quietly 
as an infant falling asleep. . . His mind seemed deeply 
engaged in meditation on those most awful concerns that 
ought to occupy more of our thoughts in health than they 
usually do. He was always sweetly and solemnly affected 
when his daughters prayed with him, or spoke gentle words 
of hope and faith in God. The expressions that fell from 
his dear dying lips were divinely consoling to us whom he 
has left behind. We have a confidence, which we would not 
relinquish for all the hopes that this life can offer, that he 
is at rest at the footstool of the Eternal Throne, and that 
we shall all meet him in everlasting felicity, and inseparable 
communion. Thus far of the honored and loved and la- 
mented dead who is gone before us. Of the living, your 
mother is humbly and simply resigning herself to the will 
of the Lord. ... No words that I could command would 
do justice to the filial piety of your sisters, and their un- 
wearied attention to every word and look of their suffer- 
ing but now sainted father. . . Your name was frequently 
in their hearts and on their lips. ... I send most cordial 
and affectionate remembrances to dear Mrs. Gales and to all 
your beloved family. I shall write next week by the Packet, 
hoping that you will certainty receive one or both of these 
letters, from 

" Your sincere friend, 

"J. Montgomery. 
"Mr. Joseph Gales." 

It was then, with no patrimony save the indiscerp- 
tible one of probity, industry, and a good capacity, that 



32 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

Joseph Gales entered upon the arena of life, achieving, 
by the unassisted force of these qualities, a just dis- 
tinction in his native land, which was recognized and 
deepened into reverential love in that of his adoption. 
Alternating his hours of work — for in that frugal 
household toil was a necessity — with persistent and 
conscientious study, the stout-hearted boy had soon ex- 
hausted the educational resources of Eckington. Mr. 
Gales, in writing of this period of his life, says : " The 
inhabitants of our village were in moderate circum- 
stances, and of good morals, and I have thought the 
latter merit in a great degree owing to the attention 
paid to the cultivation of music. Fortunately, there 
was a resident of Eckington of better fortune, and who 
had received greater advantages than the rest of the 
villagers, and who to a knowledge of music superadded 
the gift of a fine bass voice, singing well and playing 
on more than one instrument. This gentleman gladly 
instructed all who wished to join the village choir, 
where my father had charge of the violoncello and 
sang bass, while my brother and I sang treble." This 
love of the gentle art continued through life to be the 
favorite recreation of the hours of leisure snatched by 
Mr. Gales from his industrious career. 

And now at the age of thirteen the stalwart lad 
began to heed the stirring of a moderately ambitious 
nature, prompting him to seek a more advanced post 
in the bivouac of life than the humble one occupied by 
his worthy forbears. 

An advantageous opening soon offered in the city of 
Manchester, where the young Joseph was bound for a 
term of seven years to the bookbinding and printing 



A BIOGKAPHICAL SKETCH. 33 

business ; and where, during three years, he applied 
himself with characteristic diligence to his specific 
duties, and the acquisition of all the extraneous knowl- 
edge within his circumscribed means. 

The system of apprenticeship, as conducted and le- 
gally countenanced at that period, in England, was dis- 
graced by a severity, a cruelty, little removed from the 
tyranny of the feudal ages. No Exeter-Hall fabled 
sufferings of slavery could surpass those to which re- 
spectable youths were subjected by their irresponsible 
master, who held almost unchecked power over the very 
life of the apprentice. The experience of young Gales 
did not differ from that of many of his fellow-bonds- 
men ; but rather than afflict his parents with a knowl- 
edge of his situation, he bore in silence the humiliations, 
starvation, and personal inhumanity of his employer, 
continuing bravely to fulfil his duties and practice his 
craft, until a series of outrages culminated in an at- 
tempt on his life by his master's wife, "a notorious 
vixen," who in a fit of passion seized a knife and 
swore to run it through the heart of the mild, obedient 
boy. Escaping from the infuriated woman, his relatives 
appealed to a court of justice, and pending the decision, 
young Gales determined to place himself beyond the 
power of his evil taskmasters. " I therefore set out," 
he says, in recounting the occurrence, " with not more 
than half a crown in my pocket, to walk over fifty 
miles to my native village ; and to show the state of 
my religious impressions at that time, I will mention, 
that, in a solitary spot on the mountainous moors over 
which I wended my way, I bent my k*iees in prayer 
to my God, thanking him for my release from a heavy 



o-i WILLIAM WINSTOB SEATOX.- 

bondage and pitying for his future guidance and pro- 
tection." 

This incident is illustrative of the simple, firm trust 
in an overruling Providence which ever characterized 
Joseph Gales ; who, indeed, in guileless purity, single- 
ness of purpose,. and stern uprightness, seemed framed 
in patriarchal mould, — " A just man, and walked with 
God." 

Fortune smiled compensatingly on the next venture 
of the earnest young typographer, who, in the fine 
old town of Newark, entered into an apprenticeship 
with a generous, worthy gentleman, under whose guid- 
ance he became a master in his craft, and in whose 
home he found culture, refinement, and affection. He 
was now approaching man's estate, intelligent, robust, 
and bright-eyed, which passports to feminine favor 
were appreciated by a fair young creature, whom, after 
a wooing of five years, Mr. Gales won to be the partner 
of his checkered life ; his joy in prosperity, his com- 
fort and helpmeet in adversity. This young lady was 
Miss Winifred Marshall, daughter of John Marshall, of 
Xewark-upon-Trent. 

The family of Marshall had for many generations 
occupied a position of high respectability in Notting- 
hamshire, whence they sprang from an ancestry of 
gentle birth, possessing competent means, and noted 
for a love of letters. Mrs. Gales, in her autobiography, 
says : " Your grandfather Marshall's family, my dear 
children, were proud of their lineage, and though their 
claim to distinction on the score of wealth had passed 
away before mf time, yet they were tenacious of their 
pretensions and loved to dwell upon the family descent. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 35 

Genealogical tree, seals, parchments se'cting forth hered- 
itary family claims, were jealously cherished posses- 
sions, exciting my youthful interest ; noiv, in this land 
where honorable conduct is the only patent of true no- 
bility, such distinctions seem puerile ; yet a degree of 
tenderness pervades my feelings at this retrospective 
view, and I am pleased to remember that my ances- 
tors were persons of integrity, well-educated, and of no 
mean intellect." 

It will suffice for this sketch to retrace the family 
history only to Gervase Marshall, a clergyman of the 
English Church, and Hector of Whatton in Notting- 
hamshire, whose wife brought him the livings also of 
Balderton and Farndon. 

His eldest son, Gervase Marshall of Southwell, mar- 
ried Mary, daughter of William Burnett, — a great- 
nephew of the celebrated Bishop Burnett, — whose 
wife was Elizabeth, daughter of Mark Lamb. Through 
this lady the Marshalls were nearly allied to the Mel- 
bourne family, having a common ancestor in Matthew 
Peniston Lamb, of Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire. Sir 
Matthew Lamb — an inmate of his cousin Elizabeth's 
house while pursuing his legal studies — was the fa- 
ther of the first Lord Melbourne, whose family honors 
and estates it was at one time supposed would devolve 
on the son of Gervase Marshall ; but subsequently an 
heir was born to the title, the late Viscount Melbourne, 
the Premier and friend of Queen Victoria. The sister 
of this second Lord Melbourne, the Countess Cowper, 
afterwards Lady Palrnerston,-died in 1869, surviving 
her husband, the great Premier, several years ; and 
while he during half a century shaped the policy of 



36 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

Europe, the beauty and fascination of Lady Palmerston 
held equal sway over English society during four 
reigns. 

Gervase, the eldest son of Gervase and Mary Mar- 
shall, occupied in early life an honorable position in 
the royal household of King George II., but finding the 
duties of a court life incompatible with the prosecution 
of his favorite pursuits, he retired to the country, there 
to remain absorbed through a long life in the " Follies 
of Science," casting horoscopes and seeking the Phi- 
losopher's Stone. 

His sister Mary married George Hodgkinson, Esq., 
a lawyer of eminence of Southwell, who was, says Mrs. 
Gales, " an elegant gentleman in appearance, manners, 
and acquirements, and related to the family of Pierre- 
pont, Dukes of Kingston. I met frequently at my 
aunt's house Charles Pierrepont, who at the death of 
the Duke of Kingston, and the extinction of that title, 
succeeded his relative in the minor title of Earl Man- 
vers." 

John Marshall, of Newark, the youngest son, mar- 
ried, in the memorable year 1745, Elizabeth, daughter 
of Simeon Weston, of Carleton-upon-Trent. "My 
mother," writes Mrs. Gales, "was an only child, and 
her patrimonial inheritance was considered at that 
time quite large. According to the testimony of old 
friends, she was a very lovely girl, and at a later period 
was the handsomest woman of her asje I ever saw. 
Her tastes were superior and her manners polished ; 
but, better still, she possessed the strength of a sensible 
mind and the piety of a Christian, living in the exer- 
cise of faith, and dying at the advanced age of eighty- 
three years." 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 37 

John Marshall was a man of strong intellect, well 
improved by a liberal education, possessing a cultivated 
taste for science and letters, a too absorbed devotion 
to which, combined with an inert habit, lessened the 
practical usefulness of his life, and cut short his career 
at the age of fifty years. His children inherited his 
fine natural gifts, but the endowment of intellect, vi- 
vacity, sensibility and beauty, was conferred in especial 
measure upon the youngest daughter, Winifred, born in 
1761. 

" Well do I remember my honored father's counte- 
nance," writes Mrs. Gales sixty years after his death. 
" He was very handsome, had a dark, fine eye, with a 
very dignified manner. The best likeness of him I 
ever saw, strange to say, was a portrait of Dr. Markham, 
Archbishop of York, which hung in my uncle Hodg- 
kinson's parlor, he being related to that Prelate, whom 
I also remember well, having when a little girl seen 
him during a visit he made to my uncle, with his wife 
and seven daughters. I was my father's favorite, on 
whom was showered every indulgence ; and although 
he carefully superintended the education of all his chil- 
dren, my love of reading, which I have from youth pur- 
sued with never-ceasing avidity, drew me more nearly 
to his side. Very often after the family had retired, in 
reading or conversation we wasted the midnight oil. 
I read to him all the political ephemeral works on the 
right (the Ministerial) side of the questions of the day. 
"Ah," said a gentleman to me subsequently, while 
Mr. Gales published the Sheffield Eegister, " what 
would your father say, could he now witness your 
political heresy ! " 



38 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

" Among my more solid literary food, I remember 
'Longinus on the Sublime/ Adam Smith's 'Essays' 
and 'Wealth of Nations/ Burnett's and Clarendon's 
Histories, various Topographical works, Shakespeare, 
Milton, and the best poets. A favorite volume, gener- 
ally carried by my father in his pocket, and which he 
pronounced the best extant on the subject, was Scou- 
gaU's ' Life of God in the Soul of Man.' " 

Here indeed was substantial mental pabulum for a 
girl of seventeen, but not calculated to satisfy the 
ardent poetical mind and sprightly imagination of the 
young Winifred, who, already a devotee at the shrine 
of the muses, writing graceful verse, sought still further 
relaxation and achieved no slight fame, in portraying 
the history of "Lady Emma Melcombe," "Matilda 
Berkeley," and other heroines of the sentimental or 
* Minerva Press " school. A not uninteresting coinci- 
dence, as quite in keeping with the romantic turn of 
Mrs. Gales's own taste, may be cited. 

The heroine of one of her novels, written while still 
Miss Marshall, was styled the Lady Julia Seaton. 
Thirty years afterwards, having as Mrs. Gales sought 
a home in America's western wilds, her daughter 
married Mr. Seaton ; and she saw perpetuated in their 
daughter the name of her own eldest English child of 
fiction. 

" This day forty-eight years ago," writes Mrs. Gales, 
May 4, 1832, " I pledged my faith and best affections 
to the dear and honored companion of my joys and 
sorrows. It was a lovely spring morning, and the 
drive from Collingham to Newark, my native place, 
was delightful. We were married by my brother, an 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 39 

Episcopal clergyman, in the venerable church which 
for more than six centuries has resisted the dilapida- 
tions of time and warfare, whence we drove thirty 
miles to Eckington, the residence of my newly acquired 
parents, who greeted us with the most affectionate 
salutations of welcome." 

Mr. Gales had already established himself at Shef- 
field, Yorkshire, as Printer and Publisher; possessed 
of small fortune indeed, but, as he records with com- 
mendable pride, with what he " found to be more valu- 
able than money, -r- the character of an upright, indus- 
trious business man." Characteristically, the first work 
undertaken by Mr. Gales was the publishing of a folio 
Bible, illustrated by plates, with annotations from the 
versatile pen of his clever wife. 

In 1787 Mr. Gales issued the first number of the 
Sheffield Eegister, a weekly journal, which soon won 
its way to unprecedented esteem and circulation in the 
West Eiding of Yorkshire, treating as it did of science 
and literature, foreign and domestic politics ; the ex- 
pression of its views being marked by good sense, high 
tone, and probity of purpose, — life-long characteristics 
of its founder. Mr. Gales continued to prosper, the 
happiness of his domestic circle being enhanced by the 
birth of several children, among whom were Joseph, 
born at Eckington, April 10, 1786, and Sarah, born at 
Sheffield, May 12, 1789. 

In 1792 the subject of Parliamentary Eeform awoke, 
after a number of years, like a giant refreshed with 
wine, and shook England to its centre. When in 1782 
this question of Equal Eepresentation of the people in 
the House of Commons had been agitated, meetings 



40 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

were held throughout the kingdom to discuss the rights 
of the unfranchised classes, and the best means of for- 
cing from their legislators the recognition of their legiti- 
mate demands as freemen. Delegates from' the associ- 
ations first assembled at the Thatched-House Tavern 
in London, some of the most prominent members being 
the Dukes of Norfolk and Eichmond, William Pitt — 
then an opposition member, afterwards Premier of 
England — and Major John Cartwright, who, thirty- 
five years after the failure of these initiatory measures 
of Eeform, was again active in arousing the people of 
England to a candid and peaceable mode of redressing 
their grievances. 

The Eesolutions were offered by William Pitt, and 
unanimously adopted, and, in the form of a Petition, 
were presented to the House of Commons for a Eeform 
in Parliament, "without which," said the preamble, 
" neither the liberty of the nation can be preserved, nor 
the permanency of a wise and virtuous administration 
be secure." Mr. Pitt's motion in Parliament was sup- 
ported by Charles James Fox, and lost. Sir George 
Saville said in debate, that " the House might as well 
call itself a representation of France as England." 

The following incident, as related by Mrs. Gales, is 
of interest, as illustrative of the mode of carrying Eng- 
lish elections, and of the influence exercised by the 
gentler sex over the ballot-box at that period, — an in- 
fluence as powerful, if not so openly exerted, as that 
claimed by the friends of female suffrage to-day. 

" I well remember hearing the bells ring a muffled 
peal for the death of the famous Marquis of Granby, 
the celebrated military commander, whose portrait still 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 41 

forms the weather-beaten sign of old English inns ; 
a man of great worth, and whose general popularity 
among the English had not been equalled since the days 
of Marlborough. I was a young girl when the Mar- 
quis was a candidate for the borough of Newark, where 
my father lived, who held the office of ' Headborough ' 
of the county, and who was anxious for the success of 
the ministerial candidates. The election was strongly 
contested, and the friends of the government, fearing 
defeat, were assembled for consultation, when Shelley 
and the Marquis joined them. ' How goes the poll ? ' 
' Ah, we fear against you.' The Marquis thought a 
moment, then ordered his servants to go out and pur- 
chase several large baskets of oranges and take them 
to Appleton Close. ' I saw a number of females play- 
ing at ball in a beautiful green enclosure,' said he, 
' and we will distribute the fruit among the fair.' The 
party accompanied him, and with a gay, captivating 
manner he said to a pretty girl, ' Play with me 
sweetheart, for oranges.' The game began, and in 
every orange he stuck a guinea; and every damsel 
had a game with the gallant Marquis, her orange and 
guinea. 

" ' Shelley and Manners ' — the family name of the 
great ducal house of Eutland — was now the burden of 
the song. ' I am wearied and will go now to bed,' said 
the Marquis, 'but let me know when we are elected. 
Every one of these women will oblige father, brother, 
husband, and lover to vote for us.' 

"The orange device succeeded, and at midnight it 
was announced that the Marquis and Shelley had tri- 
umphantly carried the day." 



42 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

" Now again, ten years later/' writes Mrs. Gales, 
" the people were once more awakened to the assertion 
of their political rights, and disturbed, alarmed, could 
see only tyranny and oppression on the one hand, re- 
form on the other, while the rulers recognized in the 
movement only rebellion and revolution. To men 
capable of thought, neutrality of opinion in this crisis 
was impossible ; and if their views passed into speech, 
or became visible on paper, they were ranked, accord- 
ing to the side embraced, as Disorganizes or as 
Royalists ; the latter class comprising those whom 
hereditary possessions or official position rendered 
strictly conservative, their slogan being Aris et focis, 
which in their translation signified, Our places, our 
pensions. 

" Honorable exceptions, however, to this spirit of 
caste were to be found in the phalanx of reformers, 
comprising men of talent, rank, and wealth; among 
whom were Earl Stanhope, Marquis of Lansdowne, Sir 
Charles Grey, Home Tooke, Sheridan, and, in our own 
vicinity, the Duke of Norfolk, Lord of the Manor of 
Sheffield, the Shears — eminent bankers — and others 
of learning and integrity among our personal friends. 

" Constitutional Societies were established in the 
country, breathing a spirit of peace. Mr. Erskine's 
speech at a meeting of the ' Friends of the Liberty of 
the Press,' expressed the true feeling of this momentous 
period. ' If,' said the eloquent jurist, ' in the legal and 
peaceable assertion of freedom we shall be calumniated 
and persecuted, we must be content to suffer in its 
cause, as our fathers before us ; but we will, like our 
fathers, persevere until we prevail. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 43 

" Such was the original spirit actuating the public 
mind at the meetings inaugurating this movement." 

Sprung from the yeomanry, Mr. Gales was naturally 
in sympathy with his order ; and the ' Begister ' firmly, 
but moderately, espoused the liberal cause, being the 
only journal in the West Biding which, open to dis- 
cussion, candidly avowed its sentiments on the ques- 
tion of the day. Mr. Gales had obtained great ascen- 
dency over the industrial classes of the community, to 
whom he became endeared by his unaffected goodness, 
urbanity of manner, and proverbial integrity ; yet, 
while boldly upholding the popular demands, striking 
heavy and well-aimed blows with manly freedom at 
the ministerial paltering policy, he was temperate in 
language, and invariably prudent in counsel. 

In the midst of this feverish perturbation of the 
public pulse, Mr. Gales received into his employment 
•a prepossessing youth, "who quickly and progressively 
matured into his assistant editor, dearest friend, and 
finally successor in his journal." This youth was 
James Montgomery, the poet. 

The first waves of the French EeVolution, dashing 
against the shores of England, gave a fresh impetus 
to the hopes of reform ; the destruction of the Bastile 
exciting general enthusiasm, "filling the heart with 
hope that the day-star of liberty had dawned over 
earth ; for no one could foresee that this glorious up- 
heaval of peoples would degenerate into a licentious- 
ness which prostrated all order and violated every 
right." Montgomery, who threw himself with youthful 
ardor into the popular cause, says of this period : " The 
excitement of the most violent passions caused such a 



44 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

conflict of minds, such activity of the highest powers 
of the human soul, as had never been exhibited since 
Britain was an island. Every man, woman, and child 
in the kingdom was a politician." 

Xo district was more agitated than Sheffield, one of 
the most important English centres of manufacturing 
interest, whose mechanics were a well-paid, intelligent, 
reading, and consequently liberal body of men. The 
" Test Law," by which Catholics and Dissenters from 
the Established Church of England were cut off from 
all governmental office, was also an irritating source 
of discontent to a large body of the most respectable 
and influential English subjects ; and not the least of 
the Duke of Wellington's claims to the gratitude of 
posterity, is in the abrogation of those puerile and 
odious laws during his Premiership. "With the excep- 
tion of the Duke of Norfolk, Lord of the Manor, the 
chief of whose great house has always been the lead- 
ing Catholic of the realm, the residents of Sheffield 
were generally Dissenters, the majority being favor- 
able to Reform ; the Unitarians, to which enlightened 
branch of the Christian Church Mr. and Mrs. Gales 
belonged, being earnestly so, although they did not 
manifest their opinions by constant attendance at the 
political meetings ; partly by reason of their domestic 
habits, and still more from prudential motives induced 
by the recent scenes of violence at Birmingham, and 
the disgraceful persecution of Dr. Priestley, the emi- 
nent convert to liberal Christianity. 

The riots of Birmingham were occasioned by a hand- 
bill, attributed to Dr. Priestley, calling on the friends 
of liberty to celebrate the anniversary of the des 



A BIOGRArHICAL SKETCH. 45 

tion of the Bastile ; and from this little spark the 
party of Church and State kindled the flame which 
consumed the houses of the wealthy Unitarians. Dr. 
Priestley's loss was irreparable in a valuable philosoph- 
ical apparatus, his unpublished manuscripts, and a 
library which it had cost him forty years to collect. 
Dr. Priestley's claims to distinction in the annals of 
Christian piety and intellectual progress are too uni- 
versally known to need any detailed history in this 
sketch. Goaded by party enmity, he was finally forced 
to seek an asylum in the United States, where Mr. and 
Mrs. Gales renewed with him the intimacy so valued 
in Sheffield. " A man of more genuine piety, simpli- 
city of manners, and frank charm than Dr. Priestley 
never lived," writes Mrs. Gales. " Ardent in opinion, 
even his opponents honored him for his gentle urban- 
ity; and the celebrated Dr. Parr, one of the most 
strenuous supporters of Church and State, avowed 
reverence for him in a letter to the inhabitants of 
Birmingham, which generous eulogium concludes 
thus : — 

" ' Let Dr. Priestley be confuted where he is mis- 
taken, exposed where he is superficial, repressed where 
dogmatical; but let not his attainments be depreci- 
ated, because they are numerous, almost beyond paral- 
lel; let not his talents be disparaged, for they are 
superlatively great ; let not his morals be vilified, for 
they present even to common observers the innocence 
of a hermit and the simplicity of a patriarch, and 
because a candid eye will discover in them the deep- 
fixed root of religious principle and the solid trunk 
of virtuous habits.' " 



46 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

In theological science Dr. Priestley had conscien- 
tiously progressed from Calvinism to Unitarianism, 
and was, to his latest moment, one of the ablest foes 
to infidelity. 

In the spring of 1793 the political clond grew darker, 
every one looking with fear to the impending storm. 
The main object of the Eeformers at this period was 
the abrogation of Septennial and the introduction of 
Annual Parliaments, granting free suffrage to all 
males. " William Pitt," writes Mrs. Gales, " as if to 
show how great, how mean, how versatile is man, now 
voted against Reform, alleging that he did not believe 
the people to be suffering any evil on that ground " ; 
and in thus opposing the rights of the people Pitt made 
his professed patriotism a stepping-stone to the high- 
est round of the political ladder. " Petitions addressed 
to the King and Commons poured in from all quarters ; 
the press teemed with pamphlets from both sides, one 
of which, by Count Zenobia, a German patriot of dis- 
tinction, and purporting to be written by an indepen- 
dent English country member, was a spirited, sensible 
rebuke of Pitt's tergiversation, procuring for its author 
the honor of being sent out of the country under the 
Alien and Sedition Law." 

At this juncture Thomas Paine, already a celebrity 
in the American colonies, reappeared on the English 
political stage, aiding by powerful, if misdirected ap- 
peals, to widen the breach between the people and the 
government. The son of an English Quaker, he had 
been introduced in London to Benjamin Franklin, who, 
discerning his talent, advised him to seek America as a 
more promising field in which to work off superfluous 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 47 

energy. Paine, disembarking at Philadelphia in 1774, 
soon became noted for his outspoken heresies, editing 
with ability the Pennsylvania Magazine ; and upon 
the declaration of hostilities between the rebellious 
colonies and the mother country, wrote his famous 
pamphlet, " Common Sense," the importance of which 
production the Pennsylvania Legislature recognized by 
voting its author the enormous sum of £ 500. His rest- 
less spirit carried him back to Europe at the moment 
when the English nation was seething in the turbu- 
lent waves of faction, and France convulsed by the dis- 
astrous outbreak of ferocious radicalism. Naturally, 
Paine with hot ardor threw himself into the contest, 
issuing his fiery " Eights of Man," in answer to Ed- 
mund Burke's " Eeflections on the Eevolution in 
France " ; the latter one of the most celebrated pam- 
phlets of modern times. Burke's Toryism on this 
stupendous question severed him from Fox, Sheridan, 
and other erewhile friends, rendering him the target 
for every species of invective from his quondam Whig 
associates. Yet Burke was no apologist for tyranny, 
— no man loved true freedom more ; but his pres- 
cience descried, and his warning eloquence vividly de- 
picted, the dangers of the quicksand into which French 
liberty was destined to be so fatally engulfed. 

Paine proved to be tke firebrand which, igniting the 
combustible elements of the opposing parties, caused an 
explosion involving the ruin of many eminent men, and 
tending directly also to a crisis in the fortunes of Mr. 
Gales. 

Many respectable booksellers had been arrested and 
punished under an ex post facto law for selling Paine's 



48 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

" Eights of Man," and other appeals obnoxious to the 
Ministry. Among the delinquents was Holt, a printer 
of talent, who had learned his craft in Mr. Gales's office, 
and who, for reprinting a letter from the Duke of Eich- 
mond in favor of Eeform, was convicted of treason and 
sentenced to four years' imprisonment, with a fine of 
£ 200. Eichard Phillips, of Leicester, received nearly 
as severe a sentence, prosperously ending his subse- 
quent career, however, by being knighted, when carry- 
ing up an address to the throne as Sheriff of London. 
To an American was Mr. Gales indebted for exemp- 
tion from a similar fate. " This gentleman," writes Mrs. 
Gales, "was Mr. Thomas Digges, who had come to 
Sheffield on a visit to the Duke of Norfolk. We were 
delighted with his manners and conversation, frank, 
manly, and polished, and he ^opened to us a new view 
of America, giving the first impetus to our feelings re- 
specting the present home of our adoption. The casual 
acquaintance ripened into intimate friendship, which 
was proved in this way. During an absence of Mr. 
Gales in London, Mr. Digges one morning requested 
to see me alone, asking me anxiously if we had any of 
Paine's works. ' Yes, a great many.' He replied, ' Let 
me then as a friend entreat you to put them carefully 
aside, and if inquired for, to deny the possession of a 
single copy. I have indisputable authority for saying, 
that to disregard my advice would be productive of 
positive danger.' 

" We had sold hundreds and printed thousands of 
Paine's works, but now acted gratefully on the friendly 
warning of Mr. Digges, whom we next met, twenty years 
afterwards, on the banks of the Potomac." 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 49 

The King now issued a Proclamation, forbidding his 
subjects to read " those dangerous Books," characteriz- 
ing them as " wicked, seditious works," which prohibi- 
tion naturally increased the general eagerness to obtain 
them, their sale, in Scotland especially, rising from three 
to seven hundred copies a week. 

On the day of the Proclamation the Attorney-General 
entered upon the prosecution of Paine, who, while the 
trial was pending, escaped to France, where he was chosen 
a member of the atrocious Jacobin Convention. He 
voted, to his credit be it recorded, against the death of 
Louis Sixteenth, proposing, in lieu of the guillotine, that 
the King be imprisoned or banished ; which humane 
alternative offending the Bonnets Rouges, Paine was 
sent to expiate his treasonable lenity in the Luxem- 
bourg. On the fall of Eobespierre he was released, 
and once more sought America, where his subsequent 
career is a matter of history. Even in death he caused 
contention, the Quakers refusing, because of his aggres- 
sive atheism, to allow him burial in their cemetery. It 
is almost impossible at this distance of time to form an 
impartial estimate of a man execrated by one half of 
his contemporaries as a mischievous Infidel, and lauded 
by the opposing party as an apostle of liberty ; but 
Mrs. Gales bore testimony, from friendly personal in- 
tercourse, to Paine's sincerity, the simplicity and sweet- 
ness of his nature, and the sprightly wit that charmed 
the social circle. 

The following impromptu, thrown off in sportive 
vein at some suggestion by Mrs. Gales, is an inter- 
esting specimen of the famous agitator's versatility. 

3 I> 



50 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

ME AND MY MUSE. 

A TALE. 

From the Castle in the Air to the Little Corner of the World. 

'T was in the dog-star's raging days, 
When all the heavens were in a blaze, 

And thought itself was tired ; 
'T was then a lady laid on me, 
The cruel task of Poesy, 

As if I was inspired. 

I sought my muse ; I found the maid 
Reclining in a myrtle shade, 

With slumber in her eye ; 
She looked as dull as dull could be, 
She scarcely cast a glance at me, 

And this is her reply : — 

" The lady that you love to praise, 
'T is she that must inspire your lays, 

And touch the spring of thought ; 
She 's handsomer, you know, than me, 
You like her better too, I see, 

Though I 'm without a fault. 

" I 've been your muse for many years, 
Sometimes in joy, sometimes in tears, 

But always with applause : 
'T was I that passed the Stygian Gulf, 
And brought to life your General Wolf, 

Against all Nature's laws. 

" 'T was I that taught you how to plan 
Your Common Sense, your Rights of Man, 

Your Age of Reason too : 
I led you to the source of thought, 
From whence the heavenly flame was caught, 

That burns forever new. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 51 

" I taught you castles in the air, 
And how to write to ladies fair, 

With whom you might be smitten ; 
To hint a love you dare not tell, 
And yet to hide that hint so well, 

In sonnets you have written. 

" I 've been more constant than a wife ; 
I never vexed you in my life, 

Nor thought a thought untrue ; 
But since your tickle fancy chuse 
To have a lady for a muse, 

I can be hard on you." 

" Then, charmer of my life," said I, 
The tear just standing in my eye, 

As when the heart is grieved ; 
" Pray look again and you will see, 
'T is you she courts, it is not me, 

So pray be undeceived. 

" Besides, I 'm growing out of date, 
At least, I 've fancied so of late, 

But she is still divine." 
" Oh ! be it so," replied my muse, 
" I '11 send her whatsoe'er she chuse, 

But be you ever mine." 

T. P. 

The royal proclamation was at once made a test of 
political principles. A public meeting was convened 
at Sheffield, at which Dr. Browne, a gentleman of 
standing in the " Church and State " party, offered res- 
olutions of " Thanks to his Gracious Majesty for his in- 
terest in the welfare of his subjects, in prohibiting the 
circulation of Paine's writings " ; which resolutions, 
after various spirited addresses, were negatived. Anoth- 
er meeting was called for the following evening, of per- 
sons favorable to addressing the King, which was not 



52 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

attended by the friends of liberty, among whom, of 
course, was Mr. Gales. 

" While we were at tea," records Mrs. Gales, " alarm- 
ing shouts were heard, and the appalling rumor spread 
that a furious mob was threatening Cutlers' Hall. Mr. 
Gales ran immediately, without his hat, to the scene of 
riot, and found the Yicar of Trinity Church haranguing 
the swaying crowd. He talked to the winds. In a 
moment the new-comer was discovered, and the cry 
arose, f Mr. Gales in the chair ! ' It was repeated by 
a thousand voices, and without any personal volition 
he was carried to the chair rapidly vacated by the 
Vicar. There was no time to hesitate, and eloquence, 
had your father possessed the power of Tully, would 
have availed little at this crisis. A few plain words 
best suited the emergency, and in his usual quiet, com- 
posed way, he asked, ' Is this large assemblage of cit- 
izens before me, here in consequence of the handbills 
issued to-day ? ' 

" ' Yes.' 

" ' Did you intend to sign a vote of thanks to the 
King?' 

"'No! No!' 

" ' Then, my friends, you certainly have no business 
here. You expressed your sentiments yesterday, and 
surely would not deprive your neighbors of the same 
privilege. Sheffield has hitherto been celebrated for 
the orderly conduct of the manufacturing part of the 
community ; do not forfeit your claim to this honor- 
able distinction.' 

" ' Speak on, Mr. Gales ; you are a good man, we will 
hear what you say.' 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 53 

"'If you rely on my advice because you believe 
me to be your friend, I will prove it by recommend- 
ing that every one depart peaceably home. Oblige 
even your enemies to respeet you by respecting your- 
selves.' 

" ' Home, home !' was the general cry. And in twen- 
ty minutes not one of the angry thousands assembled 
was to be seen. 

" ' See,' said an Anti-Eeformer, ' what influence 
Gales has over the populace. By what art has he 
attained this power ? ' 

* ' By pleading the poor man's cause, by advocating 
equal representation, by treating them as brethren. 
Gales is a friend to the oppressed, an admirable man 
in every relation of life.' 

" * Yes, yes ; we know all that, and there 's the rub ; 
be could lead ten thousand men by the crook of his 
finger ; and if French principles should take root, what 
might not be the result of his popularity ! ' 

" This occurrence called forth praise from all sides, 
raising your father still higher in the esteem of the 
popular party, and increasing the respect even of our 
opponents. 

"About the close of 1792 a new meteor blazed in 
the political horizon in the person of Henry Redhead 
Yorke. He was ■ the son of a Governor of one of the 
West India Islands, by whom he had been sent to 
England for education and placed under the superin- 
tendence of Edmund Burke, whose favorite protege he 
soon became. At the beginning of the French Revolu- 
tion he was an ardent aristocrat, having imbibed the 
sentiments of his high-minded friend and patron ; but 



54 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

chancing to be at Paris during the sittings of the Jaco- 
bin Club, and carried away by the specious programme 
of that infamous body, he flung aside his conservative 
principles, becoming a sudden proselyte and flaming 
stickler for the rights of man. This defection naturally 
severed all friendship or intercourse with Burke. 

" The first notice Mr. Gales had of this extraordinary 
man was through two pamphlets : ' Eeasons against 
the Abolition of the Slave Trade, by Henry Eedhead 
Yorke.' 'Answered and Eefuted by Himself.' The 
first one he had written before he left England ; the lat- 
ter, after his return. He came to Sheffield as a dele- 
gate from the Derby Society, fascinating by his charm- 
ing manners, wit, and unusual attainments all who 
came within the sphere of his influence, while his dis- 
cussion of the all-absorbing national question, in throw- 
ing new light on the subject, rendered him a powerful 
auxiliary in the Eeform movement. Few men could 
withstand his eloquent boldness of assertion, and flat- 
tering prognostication ; and several powerful appeals, 
' The Times that try Men's Souls,' quoting from Locke 
and Milton, largely increased his popularity." 

A deep-seated alarm now pervaded all classes, public 
indignation being still further excited by the employ- 
ment of Hessian and Hanoverian troops, and the forma- 
tion of volunteer companies by the Court party, for the 
purpose of overawing the " seditious populace." A pub- 
lic meeting held at Chalk Farm near London, for the 
purpose of denouncing this aggression upon the rights 
of Englishmen, and one convened in a similar spirit at 
Castle Hill, in Sheffield, precipitated events to a crisis. 
The resolutions offered and advocated bv Yorke on the 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 55 

latter occasion created such wild enthusiasm that the 
multitude drew him in a carriage through the streets. 
" I had the honor to be drawn along with Yorke amidst 
excited thousands/' writes Mr. Gales. 

This protest was, however, disastrous in its results, 
as forming a pretext for the arrest by Government of 
many of the obnoxious participants. At the first note 
of alarm Yorke left Sheffield, being, however, after 
many ineffectual attempts for his apprehension, arrest- 
ed in a singular and characteristic manner. Secreting 
himself on the banks of the Humber, he used to amuse 
himself by sailing about the coast in a skiff. On one 
of his excursions he saw a boat approach which he 
could not avoid, and the oarsmen bearing down, hailed 
him : " What is your name ? " 

" Melville. Why do you ask ? " 

"No. You are Eedhead Yorke. I know you by 
your eyes, which a lady so well described that they 
cannot be mistaken." 

Instead of being alarmed at his discovery and its 
sure consequences, he coolly replied, "Who was the 
dear creature who so sweetly observed me ? I hope 
she was young and beautiful." 

The fascinating " conspirator " was committed to 
Doncaster jail, and finally sentenced to four years in 
York Castle, for misprision of treason. 

"There he was incarcerated," writes Mrs. Gales, 
" when we left England, his efforts in the cause of Re- 
form terminating in a manner befitting his romantic 
career. The beautiful daughter of Mr. Clayton, the 
Governor of the Castle, became attached to this extraor- 
dinary young man, and at the expiration of his term of 



56 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

imprisonment they were married. He published a 
volume called ' Mural Hours/ composed in prison, tak- 
ing its idea perhaps from the ' Attic Nights ' of Aulius 
Gellius. He subsequently edited a ministerial paper, 
and became one of the most strenuous opponents of 
Reform." 

The thunder that had so long rolled at a distance 
at length burst, and the bolt that struck many distin- 
guished victims, also shattered the more humble for- 
tunes of Mr. Gales. 

"Gerald, and other eminent patriots," writes Mrs. 
Gales, " were arrested, and sentenced to Botany Bay ; 
two more were executed for treason whose crime lay in 
attending patriotic meetings ; two dissenting, clergy- 
men were transported to New South Wales; while 
Mr. Muir, a Scotchman of high standing, underwent 
the same severe sentence, being convicted, on the evi- 
dence of his servant, of lending seditious books to his 
neighbors. Hamilton Bowan, a distinguished man and 
good friend of ours, who had a beautiful seat near New- 
ark, was implicated, but escaped to America, where, 
with other refugees from the injustice of our native 
land, we met him in later years. The dreadful fate 
of the brothers Sheares, and of the young and gifted 
Kobert Emmett, hag been wept over wherever freedom 
is loved." 

Home Tooke, Thelwell, and Hardy were appre- 
hended in London, the last-named being Secretary 
of the London Society, and among whose papers was 
found an account of an enthusiastic Beform meeting at 
Sheffield, at which a hymn written for the occasion by 
Montgomery was sung in full chorus ; " and thus," as 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 57 

the poet said, " one of my first hymns ever sung, found 
its way into Billy Pitt's green bag." 

But material more inflammatory, and more moment- 
ous in its effect on the fortunes of Mr. Gales had also 
found its way into the Premier's hands. A capable, 
clever printer in the Register office had rashly indited 
an insurrectionary letter to the London Club, detailing 
very formidable revolutionary plans as to arms and 
troops, which sage epistle, seized with Hardy's papers, 
was dated " Gales's printing-office." 

Mrs. Gales was now seriously alarmed, and tried to 
dissuade her husband from printing for these societies, 
or having any connection with them ; but he replied, 
that "so long as their object continued to be none 
other than the one avowed, — Parliamentary Eeform, — 
it was his duty to stand by them." But the blow now 
fell, from which Mr. Gales was only saved by his 
timely absence in Derbyshire. 

The alarming rumor one morning flew through 
Sheffield that King's Messengers — names of terror in 
those days — armed with a Secretary of State's warrant, 
were on their way to arrest Eedhead Yorke, Mr. Gales, 
and his spirited but indiscreet printer. The extreme 
measure of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, 
cutting off victims of suspicion from legal redress, the 
severity of sentence in the cases of mere sympathy 
with Reform, and the knowledge that certain impris- 
onment and probable conviction awaited his return, 
combined to induce Mr. Gales to yield to the represen- 
tations of influential friends — conveyed to him by 
Montgomery — and to place the German Ocean between 
himself and prosecution. 

3* 



58 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

"A few 'days passed in extreme inquietude/' writes 
Mrs. Gales, " when early one morning I was awakened 
by a message from the men in the office informing me 
that the * King's Messengers ' were in town. Calling 
up my sister-in-law and Montgomery, we were listen- 
ing with trembling anxiety to the account of the 
atrocious conduct of Eoss and Diggs, whose very names 
carried terror, when Justice Althorpe and some stran- 
gers entered. 

"' You are Mrs. Gales I presume,' said a well-look- 
ing man. 

" I bowed with a swelling heart, but could not speak. 

" ' It. is with great concern, madam,' said Colonel 
Althorpe, ' that by duty I am included in so painful a 
business ; but the exigency of the times calls for ex- 
treme vigilance, and I am sorry to add that Mr. Gales 
is implicated as printer of seditious works, and we are 
authorized to search for the authors.' 

" I cheerfully accompanied them through the house, 
opening each door, but they only bowed and passed 
on ; but they were answered very cavalierly by the 
indignant printers at work in the office. 

" ' You have a very extensive establishment, madam, 
and I am informed that you are fully competent to 
carry it on in all its branches.' 

* ' I endeavor to do my duty, sir. But when is this 
persecuting spirit to cease ? Where will it end, if an 
Englishman cannot discifss public measures, and in- 
form the people through the press, of what so nearly 
concerns their interest ? ' 

" ' I hope at least, madam, that Mr. Gales may no 
longer be involved in the dangers of this period ; and 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 59 

knowing the opinion entertained of him by his politi- 
cal opponents, I shall rejoice to learn that he remain 
absent until the present state of feeling shall subside.' 

" They courteously took leave, and I mention their 
civility as being in such contrast with their usual 
cruelty in these domiciliary visits. A lady eighty 
years of age was rudely taken from bed, while her 
room was searched. And in London, when Thomas 
Hardy was arrested, they brutally insulted his wife, by 
telling her that she might see her husband hanged if 
she wished. She sank under her fears, her infant and 
herself dying during her husband's imprisonment." 

The good sense, cleverness, and energy of Mrs. Gales 
were severely tested at this trying moment ; but her 
latent force of character was called forth, and her 
resolution strengthened as the difficulties increased. 
" My husband gone, a large printing establishment in 
full business, a paper to edit, and a young family claim- 
ing my care." From every rank of the community 
now flowed in evidences of the respect and personal 
love entertained for Mrs. Gales and her absent hus- 
band, in generous and delicate proffers of service from 
the lowly as well as affluent citizens. Mrs. Gales was 
especially touched by the expression of feeling on the 
part of the workingmen, who regarded Mr. Gales as 
their exemplar and protector. During one of the riots, 
frequent at this disturbed period, a volunteer guard 
kept watch around her sleeping family, shielded for the 
remainder of their stay in Sheffield by these unknown 
friends. 

A deputation of mechanics waited on Mrs. Gales to 
present a paper signed by the head workman of every 



60 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

craft in Sheffield, stating that they " had sworn to pro- 
tect her and her children, and if it was her husband's 
wish to return, thousands stood pledged to guard him." 
" My feelings," says Mrs. Gales, " overcame me at this 
demonstration of devotion ; but when composed, I 
pointed out that this proof of attachment would bring 
ruin on them from civil authority, and I would give 
them the advice which my husband would approve : 
that they return home, and continue to be orderly, in- 
dustrious, temperate citizens. After asking to shake 
my hand in farewell, they gravely went their way. 
Worthy men of Sheffield ! never shall this kindness be 
effaced from my memory." 

Mr. Gales had safely reached Amsterdam, thence 
making his way to Hamburg. To return to England 
would be to risk the tender mercies of a packed jury 
and prejudiced judges ; and the turn of events hastened 
to a decision the project long entertained by Mr. 
Gales, to try his fortunes in the more congenial polit- 
ical clime of the new Western Eepublic. A sentence 
or two from the letter instructing his wife and children 
to join him in Germany prove that no storm of adver- 
sity, as no temptation of poverty, could swerve the 
rigid integrity of this upright man. 

"Bring nothing with you, my dear Winifred, but 
what the strictest justice warrants. Let us meet in 
peace, with a clear conscience, and my trust is in God, 
that he will help us. We are young, healthy, and able 
to struggle for a support for our dear children; and 
leaving no one behind us who can with truth say that 
we have wronged him, fear not but that He who feeds 
the young ravens will feed us." 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 61 

Mrs. Gales now made all arrangements, and offered 
the establishment for sale. Very liberal proposals 
were made for the ' Eegister ' by an agent for Govern- 
ment, which would gladly have suppressed so obnox- 
ious a medium of free discussion ; but Mrs. Gales 
rejected the offer with spirit, and had the satisfaction 
of placing the paper in the hands of one who would 
manfully uphold the principles so vigorously advocated 
by its conscientious founder. 

The moment of parting came ; and amidst the tears 
of friends, and the ardent blessings of the humbler 
crowd that filled the street, Mrs. Gales bade farewell 
to the endeared scenes and loved relatives whom she 
was to behold no more on earth ; and sailing from 
Hull, her native land set upon her sight forever. 

"The torchlike blaze of the 'Eegister' being thus 
quenched, it soon afterwards, in the hands of Mont- 
gomery, revived under the milder light of the ' Iris.' 
The young poet-editor inherited the political odium 
attaching to his predecessor in the eyes of the govern- 
ment ; and, watched with vigilance, was marked out as 
the victim of that bolt of vengeance which had missed 
his patriotic master." Under the most paltry pretext 
of writing and printing seditious songs, he suffered a 
state prosecution at the hands of Sir John Scott, sub- 
sequently Lord Eldon, and was twice imprisoned in 
York Castle. 

The incidents and labors of Montgomery's career, as 
journalist, politician, and philanthropist, are too famil- 
iar to the public to be here recited. As a poet, his 
name is indelibly inscribed in the ranks of England's 
most cherished sons ; while his memory is endeared to 



62 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

thousands of Christians, who find in the fervor and 
poetic fire of the unsurpassed hymns of this " sweet 
singer in Israel " the truest expression of their soul's 
worship. 

In 1825, on the occasion of Montgomery's retirement 
from public life, he was complimented by a dinner, 
offered by gentlemen of every shade of political opin- 
ion, presided over by Earl Fitzwilliam, whose father 
had been the poet's first patron. The runaway youth 
with his cherished manuscript in his pocket, his sole 
wealth, had the good fortune to meet the Earl riding 
in his park at Wentworth ; and pulling out the poem, 
presented it to the kindly nobleman, who, reading it on 
the spot, gave the elated author his first golden guinea. 

In replying to a toast at this banquet, Montgomery 
spoke of Mr. Gales and the cause he had so nobly de- 
fended. 

" With all the enthusiasm of youth I entered into 
the feelings of those who called themselves the friends 
of freedom and humanity. Those with whom I was 
immediately connected, verily were such ; and had all 
the Eeformers of that era been generous, upright, and 
disinterested like the noble-minded editor of the Shef- 
field Eegister, the cause which they espoused would 
never have been disgraced, and might have prevailed 
at that time ; since there could have been nothing to 
fear from the patriotic measure of patriotic men." 

Strongly attached to the family of Mr. Gales, Mont- 
gomery passed into his remaining household, consisting 
of three sisters, to whom, until the circle was broken 
by death, he supplied the place of a brother. The ill- 
health of the eldest Miss Gales alone prevented the 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 63 

cementing of this fraternal association by a more tender 
tie, her virtues being commemorated by Montgomery 
at the period of her death, by the following hitherto 
unpublished lines : — 

" She went as calmly as at eve 
A cloud in sunset melts away, 
While blending nights and shadows weave 
The winding-sheet of dying day. 

" No : — the day dies not : — round the globe • 
It holds its flight o'er land and main ; 
Morn, noon, and evening are its robe, 
And solemn night its flowing train. 

" So when to us she seemed to die, 
And leave a shadow in her shroud, 
'T was but the glory passing by, 
And darkness gathering round a cloud. 

" Such words as angel-lips conveyed 
To Mary at the sepulchre, ^ 

Where she had seen her Saviour laid, 
Seemed for a moment true of her. 

" For she had risen, and cast away 
The vestments which her spirit wore ; 
' The linen clothes and napkin ' lay, 
But she, our friend, was there no more. 

" Yes, she was risen, and whither flown 
The mind of man might not conceive ; 
Yet, that she stood before the Throne, 
Faith, though it saw not, could believe. 

' ' For by no sophistry beguiled, 
She loved the Gospel's joyful sound, 
Received it like a little child, 
And in her heart its sweetness found. 

''Farewell, a brief farewell, dear friend! 
Dear sister! — we are following fast ; 



64 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

for endurance to the end, 

And home in Heaven when toils are past ! 

" Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, 
We laid thee where thy fathers sleep : 
There, till the rising of the just, 
.Watch o'er thy hed the stars will keep. 

" ' Good night ! ' once more: — when next we meet 
May this our salutation be, 
' Good morrow! ' at the judgment-seat ; 
' Good morrow ! ' to eternity. 

"J. Montgomery. 
"The Mount, Sheffield, 
February 24, 1838." 

A member of Mr. Seaton's family thus describes, in 
1848, a visit to the " Mount" in Sheffield, where the 
venerable poet, then seventy-seven years of age, was 
happily passing the placid evening of a somewhat 
stormy life, in the faithful companionship of the sur- 
vivor of the Gales sisters : — 

" Who says that Montgomery is morose ? He is a 
trump, a delightful old man, whom I could reverence 
and love in a week, so unsophisticated and pure in his 
tastes and habits is he. I have seen him and Aunt 
Sarah every day, and they are cordial and affectionate 
as possible ; and in the dinner at their house I enjoyed 
the meeting exceedingly ; Montgomery took his pipe, 
and chatted in the most charming, easy, and winning 
manner." 

At the close of a spring day in 1854 the aged poet 
surprised Miss Gales at family worship by handing 
her the Bible, saying, " Sarah, you must read " ; after 
which he prayed with a peculiar pathos, exciting his 
friend's attention, conversing cheerfully, however, while 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 65 

smoking his customary pipe. But the end of earth 
had come ; and a few hours later, while speaking with 
Miss Gales, " he fell on sleep." 

The transit of Mrs. Gales, from Hull to Hamburg, 
was not without danger, from a severe gale threatening 
instant destruction ; but all suffering was forgotten in 
the joyful reunion with the exile at Altona. In Sep- 
tember they embarked for America, but the manners 
of the captain, and the whole discipline of the vessel, 
were so offensive as to excite disgust and uneasiness 
among the passengers ; and a prolonged calm succeed- 
ing to a terrific storm, adding to the discomfort, in- 
duced Mr. Gales to forfeit his passage. Hailing a 
passing pilot-boat, the wandering family once more 
safely landed on German soil. 

This incident, apparently affecting only the personal 
comfort of Mrs. Gales, was a providential link in the 
chain of events shaping the future fortune of Mr. 
Gales, and that of his descendants in the New World. 
With characteristic industry, during the winter he set 
himself the task of mastering the German tongue and 
the art of short-hand ; and it was his skill in the latter 
chance acquisition that virtually founded the National 
Intelligencer, and gave to fame its brother editors. 

Altona, in the Duchy of Holstein, the claim to 
whose allegiance was so recently casus belli between 
gallant little Denmark and the great German powers, 
is a quaint, pretty town on the banks of the Elbe, sep- 
arated only by ancient, picturesque gates from the 
beautiful free city of* Hamburg ; and it would be in- 
teresting to present the details of continental life dur- 
ing a residence there seventy-four years ago, as noted 



66 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

by the graphic and sprightly pen of Mrs. Gales ; but 
the limits of this sketch preclude more than a passing 
glance at a few of the persons and incidents described 
in her autobiography. 

" The season set in with intense rigor, and persons 
in America recollect the bitter severity of the winter 
of 1794. The rivers became solidly frozen to a great 
thickness, insomuch that hundreds of persons assem- 
bled on the Elbe, lighting large fires, eating, dancing, 
skating, and roasting oxen whole on the ice. Early 
in January, 1795, General Pichegru and his victorious 
army having expelled the Austrians from the Nether- 
lands, drove the Dutch and British before them, and 
passing over the frozen Meuse, literally conquered the 
country on skates. 

" This unlooked-for event in a manner affected our 
humble fortunes, bringing as it .did to Altona an influx 
of several thousand French emigrants, among whom we 
renewed old and formed fresh friendships. The French 
royalists had escaped in vast numbers from Jacobin- 
ical atrocities to England and Holland, and on the ad- 
vance of Pichegru they fled dismayed from their asy- 
lum, the females shrieking, ' They are come, the French 
are come ; we are lost ! ' But Pichegru possessed the 
spirit of humanity always accompanying true bravery, 
and on his entrance into Amsterdam performed a most 
gracious action. Whilst the affrighted French were 
flying in all directions, a small number of them, mad- 
dened by conflicting feelings, rushed into the victori- 
ous general's presence, demanding instant death ! To 
their impassioned supplications Pichegru replied, with 
averted face, ' I know you not/ motioning as he left 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 67 

the room to one of his aides, who, conducting the reck- 
less creatures into another apartment, drew their atten- 
tion to a table covered with rouleaux of gold. A few, 
yielding to the pressure of the moment, availed them- 
selves of this noble, delicate liberality ; others, from 
honorable but mistaken feeling, turned silently away. 
One of the latter, a gifted man of high rank at home, 
related this anecdote to us, with expressions of grati- 
tude for the kindly victor. 

"•Keduced to utter penury, it was no unusual thing 
for us to see in the streets of Altona the cherished 
Cross of St. Louis glittering beneath the threadbare 
vestments of these emigres ; and ladies who had graced 
the circles of a court cheerfully submitted to menial 
employments. 

" We were surprised one morning by a visit from 
Citizen, ci-devant Count, Zenobia, whom we had known 
in Sheffield, where Mr. Gales published for him the 
spirited pamphlets advocating the liberal cause, which 
had rendered him so obnoxious to the Ministry; and 
while waiting to correct his proofs he had passed many 
hours in my drawing-room. He was a novel charac- 
ter to me, very entertaining, having for some years been 
Envoy from Venice to England, where he remained 
after his embassy had ceased. Speaking English flu- 
ently, he was now, in Germany, a welcome guest at 
our humble board, his wife also being a pleasant acqui- 
sition to our circle, a beautiful woman, with a superb 
suit of brown hair that swept the floor. 

"He presented to us General Clarke, of the Irish 
Brigade in France, a most charming man, who after- 
wards, such are Fortune's caprices, was created by Na- 



68 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

poleon a peer of France, Due de Dantzic, and accom- 
panied Madame Lafayette to Olmutz. 

" Among other notables of our little coterie may be 
mentioned General Dumouriez, who there wrote his 
memoirs ; and Mr. Dutton, proscribed in England as 
the author of essays under the signature of Junius 
Beclivivus, for whose apprehension a large reward was 
offered. 

" Citizen and Citizeness Zenobia Were pleased with 
my children, and frequently begged that they be al- 
lowed to accompany them to dessert at the celebrated 
table d'hdte in Altona, where my little girls were always 
received with enthusiasm, returning to me full of ad- 
miration at the beauty of the ladies, their lovely red 
cheeks, and grand gowns. 

" Among the emigrants whom we came to know well 
was the celebrated Madame de Genlis, whose husband, 
Sillery-Brulart, had been a victim of the guillotine. 
She retained in full her great beauty and fascination, 
was witty, perhaps a little frivolous, and unsubdued 
by the fearful scenes that had banished her from the 
brilliant society of a luxurious court. She often spoke 
with devoted affection of her former pupil, the Due de 
Chartres — afterwards King Louis Philippe — and I 
was surprised in after-years to learn that she had trans- 
ferred her allegiance ardently to the Imperial Corsican, 
by whom she was allowed a pension and handsome 
apartment at the Tuileries, playing again a conspicuous 
role at the court of St. Cloud. Estranged from the 
Orleans family by this defection, the accession of Louis 
Philippe brought her no increase of honor, and this 
once-cherished favorite of princes sank into poverty 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 69 

and obscurity. She was engaged in literary pursuits 
while at Altona, writing there her ' Knights of the 
Swan.' My little Sarah — afterwards Mrs. Seaton — 
was her special pet, and so much did the child win 
upon her affection, that she urged us to let her fill the 
empty place in her heart ; but we could not part with 
our daughter, even to bestow upon her all the worldly 
advantages attending the rank and fame of Madame de 
Genlis." 

In the diverse circle thus strangely resolved into so- 
cial harmony was the philanthropic Joel Barlow with 
his wife, whose acquaintance with Mr. and Mrs. Gales 
ripened into intimacy. This gifted man had already 
played a prominent part in the revolutionary dramas 
of the rebellious American Colonies, and of republican 
France, having left college to participate in the victory 
of White Plains. Eeturning to the prosecution of his 
studies, the youthful patriot's graduating poem was on 
the " Prospect of Peace," and still fired by rebellious 
ardor, he prepared himself, after six vjceks' devotion to 
theology, for the post of army chaplain, one of the un- 
usual duties of which spiritual office he assumed to be 
the composition of spirited odes, by which to animate 
the soldiers. His "Vision of Columbus," afterwards 
elaborated into his magnum opus the "Columbiad," 
met with great success both in London and Paris ; and 
Miss Berry, the beautiful friend of Horace Walpole, 
speaks of it as a work of genius. 

This enthusiastic nature naturally led its possessor 
to the van, in the cry of liberty then shaking thrones 
and peoples, and Joel Barlow precipitated himself into 
the maelstrom of French anarchy, becoming involved 



70 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

in the intrigues of the Girondists ; and in a poem en- 
titled " The Conspiracy of Kings " launched a furious 
denunciation at the devoted head of Edmund Burke as 
the author of the calamities of the times. Being sent 
on a diplomatic mission to Savoy, he made stirring 
appeals to the Piedmontese to embrace the alluring 
principles of Kevolution, composing meanwhile his 
humorous poem, " The Hasty Pudding." 

He now formed one of the most brilliant members 
of the little community of proscrits, united by the sym- 
pathetic tie of persecution in this hospitable German 
town. " Once more/' writes Mrs. Gales, " were we 
tempted to part with our little daughter Sarah. Our 
kind friends the Barlows earnestly plead with us to 
resign her to them, if only for a year. ' We will take 
her to France, and give her again to your arms in 
America,' said they ; but we firmly resisted the en- 
treaty, and happily so, for Mr. Barlow was appointed 
Consul at Algiers — where he released the prisoners 
held as slaves by the Barbary Powers — and to various 
other missions ; so that we only met in America after 
an interval of fourteen years." 

During the winter the domestic content of Mr. and 
Mrs. Gales was enhanced by the birth of a daughter, 
named, in commemoration of their city of refuge, Al- 
ton a Holstein. 

The moment now arrived in which these English 
wanderers were once more to leave kind friends and 
pleasant scenes, and in July, 1795, they sailed for 
Philadelphia. The ship skimmed lightly over the sum- 
mer seas in uninterrupted safety, except from an inci- 
dent that afforded the facile pen of Mrs. Gales subject- 
matter for frequent romantic after-sketches. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 71 

" When about four hundred miles from the Delaware 
Capes, one morning the lookout called, ' A sail, a sail 
ahead.' 'A pilot-boat/ said one. 'How curiously 
rigged, and what a cloud of canvas she carries ! ' said 
another. ' But,' said I, placing the telescope to my 
eye, 'the people on her deck are dancing like wild 
men ' ; and at these words a shot whizzed across our 
bow from the privateer, to bring us to. 

" All was now hurry and consternation. England, 
France, and the Barbary Powers were at war, and the 
Algerine pirates were spreading terror over every sea. 
In a moment it was determined that some of the pas- 
sengers were to be Spaniards, — ourselves, an American 
family returning from Hamburg, — the Germans to 
remain in statu quo. Within half an hour the priva- 
teer had boarded us, put our crew under hatches, and 
carried off our captain, leaving a lieutenant and prize- 
master in charge of our vessel. 

" Shielded by my clinging children, and fearing no 
insult, I went on deck, when the lieutenant, bowing, 
said, ' An American family from Hamburg, madam ? ' 
I merely bowed. ' Your husband may be an American, 
but you surely are an Englishwoman, and these chil- 
dren,' patting the heads of Joseph and Sarah, 'were 
born on British soil.' 

" ' Can you, then, draw such nice distinctions be- 
tween those who, though living in different hemi- 
spheres, claim a common origin and speak the same 
language ? ' I replied. 

" ' Yes, madam, for I am an Englishman.' 

u I instantly made up my mind, and held out my 
hand to my countryman. At the same moment the 



72 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

bluff prize-master came up, saying, ' You are a York- 
shire woman too, madam, and blessed is the sound of 
your voice, for it is thirteen years since I heard my 
native dialect.' I shook hands also with him cordially, 
and then expatiated on the hardship of being carried 
to Bermuda. Lieutenant Bethel tried to console me ; 
his house, the prettiest on the island, should be at my 
service, and we should be honored guests. 

" In quite a prolonged conversation I adjured him 
to abandon a profession in which every man's hand 
was against his own. 

" Late at night the captain returned, and came to 
our cabin, where I sat reading. ' Well, where is this 
lady passenger and her children, who are like angels 
in green and gold ? ' 

" His voice made me tremble, but I calmly returned 
his salutation. He insisted on seeing the children, and 
I lighted him to their cots, when he passed his hand 
gently over their sleeping faces, and, stooping, kissed 
my little girls. From that moment I was assured of 
our safety. 

" The letter-bag was handed to him by his orders, 
and as he opened and deliberately read its contents, I 
smiled. ' What amuses you, madam ? ' 

" ' Your honorable profession, sir, which rises every 
moment in my estimation.' 

" He crimsoned, saying, ' Do you remember that you 
are a captive ? ' 

" ' Yes , but if we had had but one stern-chaser, you 
could not have called me so.' " 

A lengthened colloquy ensued, in which the tact and 
spirit of Mrs. Gales, pleading for husband and children, 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 73 

won the day ; and the privateer relinquished his prize, 
parting with his late prisoner even cordially, his last 
words being : " Until your reputation for personal ve- 
racity shall be established in Philadelphia, do not say 
that this vessel had been during many hours in posses- 
sion of, and was voluntarily surrendered by, Hutch- 
ins and Bethel. To you alone, madam, it is relin- 
quished." 

Good cause indeed had the souls on board that ship 
to be grateful to Mrs. Gales for deliverance from the 
clutches of the captain of this privateer, — a bad man, 
already notorious for every violation of honor and hu- 
manity. 

Immediately on his arrival at Philadelphia Mr. Gales 
sought employment as a printer, his skill as a crafts- 
man and his merit as a man commanding speedy rec- 
ognition. The reports by the press, of the congressional 
debates were at this period few and meagre, the art 
of short-hand being in its infancy even in the British 
Parliament ; and when a faithful transcript by Mr. Gales 
of a day's debate in Congress appeared in full in the 
succeeding morning's paper of his employer, the sensa- 
tion was immense among the reading public of the city. 
This stenographic skill proved a ready stepping-stone 
to better fortune, and Mr. Gales soon purchased the 
Independent Gazetteer from the widow of Colonel 
John Oswald of Eevolutionary fame. 

Several years now passed in prosperity, the social 
pleasure of the family being greatly increased by the 
renewal of several home friendships among the refu- 
gees who had here gathered to seek safety from the 
storm evoked by English Reform, among them being 

4 



,4 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

the learned and pious Priestley, who here baptized sev- 
eral of Mrs. Gales's children. 

" A number of our English friends/' says Mrs. Gales, 
" were, like ourselves, Unitarians ; and there being no 
church for this denomination of Christians in Phila- 
delphia, it was resolved to form a society of those of 
our faith ; and a room was engaged in the University 
Buildings in South 4th Street, where our first meeting 
was held June 12, 1796. This little flock consisted at 
first of only thirteen individuals and their respective 
families. Six persons were appointed to officiate as 
lay readers, Dr. Priestley's forms of prayer being used, 
each reader selecting such sermon, as he thought prop- 
er, Mr. Gales being the first reader who officiated. 
After we left Philadelphia in 1799, the number of the 
society largely increasing, a place of worship was 
erected in 1816 ; and in 1828, the congregation being 
greatly multiplied, the present church was built and 
consecrated to the worship of the One True God, — 
' for there is one Jehovah, one God.' " 

The yellow-fever during several seasons had devas- 
tated Philadelphia, and Mrs. Gales was among the suf- 
ferers from this terrible visitation. In 1799, the scourge 
again appearing, threatening now to become an annual 
calamity, Mr. Gales yielded to the advantageous induce- 
ments urgently offered him by some warm friends 
among the North Carolina Delegation, and decided to 
remove to the recently established capital of that State, 
Ealeigh. He disposed of his paper to Mr. Samuel Har- 
rison Smith, who in 1800 accompanied the government 
to Washington, where his journal was rebaptized as the 
National Intelligencer. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 75 

A third time, then, Mr. and Mrs. Gales left a com- 
fortable home and agreeable social surroundings for 
untried scenes in a foreign land ; but in the hospitable 
little Southern community to which they now directed 
their almost pioneer steps, the open hand of kind wel- 
come was extended to the new-comers. Mr. Gales at 
once established a journal, reviving the name and motto 
of the one that had fought so good a light in stanch 
old Sheffield, — The Ealeigh Register. 

" By the constant merit and sober sense of his paper," 
says the Atlantic Monthly, " its moderation and its in- 
tegrity, Mr. Gales won and maintained the confidence 
of all on that side of politics with which he concurred, 
— the old Republican, — and not less conciliated the 
respect of his opponents. In the just and kindly old 
commonwealth which he so long served, it would have 
been hard for any party to move anything for his in- 
jury ; and the good North State honored and cherished 
no son of her own loins more than she did Joseph Gales. 
In Raleigh there was no figure that, as it passed, was 
greeted so much by the signs of a peculiar veneration 
as that great, stalwart one of his, with a sort of noble- 
ness in its very simplicity, an inborn goodness and 
courtesy in all its roughness of frame, — a countenance 
mild, commanding yet pleasant, betokening a bosom 
that no low thought had ever entered. You had in 
him, indeed, the highest image of that stanch old order 
from which he was sprung." 

Thirty-four years now passed tranquilly and happily, 
cheered by constant evidences of regard from the com- 
munity, and surrounded by a band of dutiful, affection- 
ate, and gifted children. But the time had now come 



76 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

for repose from the labors of this prolonged life, and 
Mr. Gales decided to remove to Washington to pass the 
remainder of his days near his two children, Joseph and 
Mrs. Seaton. This intention being publicly announced, 
produced a considerable excitement in the little city of 
which, during one third of a century, Mr. and Mrs. Gales 
had been active members. They could not be parted 
from silently. A public dinner was given in this good 
man's honor, presided over by Governor Swain, on which 
occasion every respectable citizen of the community, 
and many friends from a distance, — among whom were 
Judge Gaston and Chief- Justice Marshall, — assembled 
to pay tribute in warmest expressions of respect and 
love, and with full hearts to bid farewell to their ven- 
erable parting friend. 

The Register was transferred to his third son, 
Weston Raleigh Gales, who was endowed in full meas- 
ure with the intellectual activity, editorial facility, and 
a nature brimming over with every generous and kind- 
ly impulse that characterized his -parents, and whose 
premature death was mourned by his State and city 
as a public and personal loss. 

Passing, then, into the hands of Mr. Weston Gales's 
youthful son, Seaton Gales, the Register, thus in the 
third generation of its founder's family, continued to 
be conducted with the ability which had won for it so 
prominent a position among the journals of the South. 

It was not possible for Mr. Gales, even at his ad- 
vanced age, to cast off completely the harness of toil ; 
and in the chief management of the affairs of the Afri- 
can Colonization Society at Washington he found, until 
his final return to Raleigh, congenial occupation for his 
benevolent nature. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 77 

The close of Joseph Gales's career now drew near ; 
but he was preceded to the abode of "just men 
made perfect" by his honored life-companion, whose 
poetic and buoyant temperament, conversational gift, 
and gay intelligence had brightened his leisure hours, 
as her womanly tenderness and self-sacrifices had chased 
many shadows from his laborious existence. 

Within two years of her death he fell quietly asleep, 
in the sustaining faith which had guided his useful, 
blameless Christian life. 

It was, then, under the auspices of a man whose no- 
bility of nature was so kindred to his own that Mr. 
Seaton made his next step in political journalism. In 
the same year, 1809, the relationship was yet more 
closely cemented by his union with Miss Sarah Gales, 
who had shared with her brothers and sisters a careful 
training by her father, being schooled in Latin and 
English classics, well versed in French and Spanish, 
with a taste for general literature critically cultivated ; 
acquiring also from her father a rare accomplishment 
for a lady, that of stenography. Inheriting with the 
excellent judgment of her father the conversational 
talent and the generous nature of her mother, she had 
formed the delight of her parents' home, where, sur- 
rounded by intellectual influences, and in the compan- 
ionship of cultured minds, she had acquired the accom- 
plishments, and developed the virtues, which subse- 
quently adorned her husband's home with gentle good- 
ness and social distinction. 

Meanwhile Joseph Gales the younger, bred to the 
paternal art, and matured in profession and character, 



78 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

had entered upon the career of journalism in which he 
was destined to attain unusual eminence. 

" His boyhood, as usual, prefigured the man ; it was 
diligent in study, hilarious at play ; his mind bent 
upon solid things, not showy. For all good, just, gen- 
erous, and kindly things he had the warmest impulse 
and the truest perception. Quick to learn and to feel, 
he was slow only of resentment. Of the classic 
tongues he can be said to have learnt only the Latin. 
For the positive sciences he had much inclination, since 
it is told that he constructed instruments for himself, 
such as an electrical machine, with the performances of 
which he amazed the good people of Ealeigh. Mean- 
time, he was forming at home, under the good guidance 
there, a solid knowledge of those fine old authors, 
whose works make the un degenerate literature of our 
language, and then constituted what they called Polite 
Letters." * 

Graduating at the State University, this young 
printer, to obtain a more thorough knowledge of his 
craft, was sent to his father's old English friend, 
William Birch, of Philadelphia, where he speedily 
became skilled in his art. The chance acquirement 
by Joseph Gales of the art of stenography again led, 
at this juncture, to important results, in its bearing 
on the fortunes of his son, whom he had already in- 
structed in this adjunct of his intended profession. 

Mr. Samuel Harrison Smith, having transferred, with 
the removal of the seat of government, the paper pur- 
chased of Joseph Gales to Washington, there reissued 
it on the 31st of October, 1800, under the double title 

* Atlantic Monthly, 1860. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 79 

of "The National Intelligencer and Washington Ad- 
vertiser." 

" During the whole of Mr. Jefferson's administration, 
the most confidential personal and editorial relations 
existed between the President and Mr. Smith, who ably 
supported, his administration, as he continued to do 
that of Mr. Madison, who, as Secretary of State, and 
subsequently as Chief Magistrate, manifested the ut- 
most respect and confidence for Mr. Smith's intellec- 
tual ability, patriotism, and moral purity." 

In 1807 Mr. Gales offered his son Joseph, then just 
of age, as an assistant to Mr. Smith in the business 
of the " Intelligencer," with an especial view to his 
employment as a reporter, and himself attended the 
ensuing session of Congress for the purpose of initiat- 
ing his son in the difficulties of reporting the debates. 

His pupil soon became noted for his stenographic 
accuracy, and eventually one of the best reporters 
known at that day. " To the { Intelligencer' young Mr. 
Gales brought such vigor, such talent in every depart- 
ment, that within two years of their association he was 
admitted by Mr. Smith into partnership." In 1810 
Mr. Smith withdrew from his laborious occupation as 
editor, wishing to pass the remainder of his life in the 
literary and philosophical pursuits for which his love 
of letters and liberal culture so signally fitted him. 
"".... The evening of his life of blameless purity 
found him conscious, prepared, and tranquil ; and hav- 
ing lived the life of a philosopher, he gave to the 
friends who surrounded him a lesson how to die as a 
Christian." * 

* National Intelligencer. 



80 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

" Of the administrations of Mr. Jefferson and Mr. 
Madison the Intelligencer had been the supporter, 
only following in that regard the transmitted politics 
of its original, the ' Gazetteer,' derived from the elder 
Mr. Gales. Bred in these, the son had learnt them of 
his sire, as he had adopted his religion or his morals. 
Sprung from one who had been educated in Eng- 
land as a republican, it was natural that the son should 
love the faith for which an honored parent had suf- 
fered." * 

In October, 1812, Mr. Seaton united his fortunes 
with those of his brother-in-law, which association 
transferred the names of Gales and Seaton from the 
head of the Kegister to that of the Intelligencer, and 
the former journal reverted to its original status, with 
Joseph Gales, senior, as editor. 

" Ealeigh, in this instance, gave to Washington a 
brace of editors trained in the office of the Ealeigh 
Eegister, who, during half a century, published a paper 
that for ability, fairness, courtesy, dignity, purity, and 
elegance of style, obtained a reputation equalled by 
few Gazettes in any part of the world." 

"The early tie of youthful friendship which had 
grown between Mr. Seaton and Mr. Gales at Ea- 
leigh, and which the new brotherly relation had drawn 
still closer, gradually matured into that more than 
friendship or brotherhood, that oneness and identity 
of all purposes, opinions, and interests, which ever 
after existed between them without a moment's inter- 
ruption, and was long, to those who understood it, a 
rare spectacle of that concord and affection so seldom 

* Atlantic Monthly, 1860. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 81 

witnessed, and which could never have come about 
except between men of singular virtues." * 

The wings of the capitol, the President's mansion, a 
few public buildings, and a score or so of private 
dwellings stranded among the marshes, scattered from 
Greenleaf's Point to Georgetown, over rural hills and 
along the banks of " Goose Creek once and Tiber now," 
then constituted the main features of the infant me- 
tropolis, — the " Federal City," as General Washington 
modestly addressed a letter, franked by his own great 
name, now in the writer's possession. The increase or 
improvement of the city had not made many strides 
since the removal thither of the government, * which," 
as Mr. W^lcott expressed it, "left the comforts of 
Philadelphia to go to the Indian place with the long 
name, in the woods on the Potomac." Contemporary 
accounts represent it as desolate in the extreme, with 
its unopened streets and avenues, its deep morasses, and 
its vast area covered with trees instead of houses." 

" The ridge of hills," says Mrs. Harrison Smith, " of 
which Capitol Hill forms a part, was covered with 
a growth of fine, wide-spreading forest trees, natives 
of the soil, which, if properly managed, would have 
formed a noble park; but in purchasing the ground 
no right to these majestic trees had been reserved by 
the government, and they were felled and sold by their 
original owners for fuel." 

" I wish I were a despot," cried Mr. Jefferson, " that 
I might save those noble trees." 

Many a snipe has fallen before Mr. Seaton's unerring 
aim where his old homestead stands, and many a 

* Atlantic Monthly, 1860. 
4* f 



82 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

covey of partridges lias his pointer flushed among the 
woods of our now broad avenues. Notwithstanding 
the desolate surroundings of the inchoate city, its 
society had already attained the cosmopolitan fea- 
tures characterizing a political capital. " The literary 
and philosophical, as well as political reputation of 
Mr. Jefferson, had made it the resort of foreigners, of 
men of science, and of all European travellers " ; and 
upon the accession of Mr. Madison, and notably of his 
charming wife to the honors of the executive mansion, 
a refined ease and polished gayety pervaded the circles 
graced by the winning presence of the new Presi- 
dentess. 

Mr. and Mrs. Seaton, upon their entrance on the 
more enlarged sphere of their new home, were wel- 
comed with the hospitality characteristic of that day ; 
the consideration evinced towards them as strangers, 
speedily warming in the community to the respect 
and personal affection due to their virtues and rare 
attractive qualities. Few are the survivors, and fewer 
still the records of that era of a courtly tone and 
stately grace of society, marked by the simplicity of 
high breeding, and the absence of tawdry display ; 
when the flavor of royalty still clung to habits and 
modes of speech ; when Mrs. Madison was approached 
'as a Queen, and the President's mansion was desig- 
nated as the " Palace." 

Mrs. Seaton's family correspondence depicts many 
interesting persons and incidents prominent during 
this period; various extracts from winch will best 
illustrate the position of herself and husband, their 
domestic happiness, and the intelligent perception 



A BIOGRAP ICA ' L SKETCH. 83 

which seized and graphically portrayed the living 
manners as they rose ; while it will be matter for 
regret that family reserve should deprive the public 
of these entire ana, which have now crystallized into 
valuable social history. 

Mrs. Seaton humorously describes the difficulties 
attending her housekeeping researches, the .young 
metropolis being entirely supplied with such requisites 
by Georgetown, at that period the emporium of 
fashion, and thus continues her diary : — 

"October, 1812. 

" Yesterday was a day of all days in Washington, — hun- 
dreds of strangers from Maryland and Virginia, in their grand 
equipages, to see a race ! Gov. Wright with his horses to 
run, Col. Holmes with his, and people of every condition 
straining at fall speed. Mr. and Mrs. Madison, the depart- 
ments of government, all, all for the race ! Major L , 

who is hand and glove with every grandee, and perfectly 
in his element, called for William (Mr. Seaton), while I 
accompanied Dr. and Mrs. Blake, and old Governor Wright 
of Maryland, in their handsome carriage to the field. It 
was an exhilarating spectacle, even if one took no interest 
in the main event of the day ; and such an assemblage of 
stylish equipages I never before witnessed. A large num- 
ber of agreeable persons, residents and strangers, were in- 
troduced to us 

" Yesterday the first drawing-room of the season was 
held. Joseph (Mr. Gales) and R. started in fine style, the 
latter sporting jive cravats, Joseph contenting himself with 
three. William was much solicited to accompany them, 
but as I have not yet been presented to her majesty, and 
it not being etiquette to appear in public until that cere- 
mony be performed, he preferred remaining with me. Mrs, 



84 WILLIAM WpS£>N SEATON. 

j 
Madison told Joseph, that &*, ' anticipated much pleasure 
in my acquaintance.' .... I shall not fail to enumerate 
every instance of attention exhibited towards us, as I 
know that your maternal tenderness is ever awake on our 

account." 

"November 12, 1812. 

" .... On Tuesday, William and I repaired to- the 
palace between four and five o'clock, our carriage setting 
us down after the first comers, and before the last. It is 
customary, on whatever occasion, to advance to the upper 
end of the room, pay your obeisance to Mrs. Madison, 
courtesy to his Highness, and take a seat ; after this 
ceremony being at liberty to speak to acquaintances, or 
amuse yourself as at another party. The party already 
assembled consisted of the Treasurer of the United States ; 
Mr. Russell, the American Minister to England ; Mr. Cutts, 
brother-in-law to Mrs. Madison ; Gen. Van Ness and family ; 
Gen. Smith and daughter from New York ; Patrick Magru- 
der's family ; Col. Goodwyn and daughter ; Mr. Coles, the 
Private Secretary; Washington Irving, the author of 
Knickerbocker and Salmagundi ; Mr. Thomas, an European ; 
a young Russian, Mr. Poindexter, William R. King and two 
other gentlemen ; and these, with Mr. and Mrs. Madison, 
and Payne Todd, their son, completed the select com- 
pany. 

" Mrs. Madison very handsomely came to me and led me 
nearest the fire, introduced Mrs. Magruder, and sat down 
between us, politely conversing on familiar subjects, and 
by her own ease of manner making her guests feel at 
home. Mr. King came to our side sans ceremonie, and 
gayly chatted w 7 ith us until dinner was announced. Mrs. 
-Magruder, by priority of age, was entitled to the right 
hand of her Hostess ; and I, in virtue of being a stranger, 
to the next seat, Mr. Russell to her left, Mr. Coles at the 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 85 

foot of the table, the President in the middle, which re- 
lieves him from the trouble of serving guests, drinkiDg 
wine, etc. The dinner was certainly very fine ; but still I 
was rather surprised, as it did not surpass some I have 
eaten in Carolina. There were many French dishes, and 
exquisite wines, I presume, by the praises bestowed on 
them ; but I have been so little accustomed to drink, that 
I could not discern the difference between Sherry and rare 
old Burgundy Madeira. Comment on the quality of the 
wine seems to form the chief topic after the removal of 
the cloth, and during the dessert, at which, by the way, 
no pastry is countenanced. Ice-creams, maccaroons, pre- 
serves and various cakes are placed on the table, which are 
removed for almonds, raisins, pecan-nuts, apples, pears, 
etc. Candles were introduced before the ladies left the 
table ; and the gentlemen continued half an hour longer 
to drink a social glass. Meantime Mrs. Madison insisted 
on my playing on her elegant grand piano a waltz for Miss 
Smith and Miss Magruder to dance, the figure of which 
she instructed them in. By this time the gentlemen came 
in, and we adjourned to the tea-room, and here in the 
most delightful maimer imaginable I shared with Miss 
Smith, who is remarkably intelligent, the pleasure of Mrs. 
Madison's conversation on books, men and manners, liter- 
ature in general, and many special branches of knowledge. 
I never spent a more rational or pleasing half hour than 
that which preceded our return home. On paying our 
compliments at parting, we were politely and particularly 

invited to attend the levee the next evening I would 

describe the dignified appearance of Mrs. Madison, but I 
could not do her justice. 'T is not her form, 't is not her 
face, it is the woman altogether, whom I should wish you 
to see. She wears a crimson cap that almost hides her 
forehead, but which becomes her extremely, and reminds 



86 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

one of a crown from its brilliant appearance, contrasted 
with the white satin folds and her jet black curls ; but her 
demeanor is so far removed from the hauteur generally 
attendant on royalty, that your fancy can carry the re- 
semblance no further than the head-dress In a 

conspicuous position every fault is rendered more discern- 
ible to common eyes, and more liable to censure; and the 
same rule certainly enables every virtue to shine with 
more brilliancy than when confined to an inferior station in 
society ; but 7, and I am by no means singular in the 
opinion, believe that Mrs. Madison's conduct would be 
graced by propriety were she placed in the most adverse 
circumstances in life. 

" Mr. Madison had no leisure for the ladies : every 
moment of his time is engrossed by the crowd of male 
visitors who court his notice, and after passing the first 
complimentary salutations, his attention is unavoidably 

withdrawn to more important objects Some days 

ago invitations were issued to two or three hundred 
ladies and gentlemen, to dine and spend the day with Col. 
Wharton and Capt. Stewart, on board the Constellation, — 
an immense ship of war. This, of all the sights I have 
ever witnessed, was the most interesting, grand and novel. 
William, Joseph, R. and I, went together, and as the 
vessel lay in the stream off the Point, there were several 
beautiful little yachts to convey the guests to the scene of 
festivity. On reaching the deck we were ushered immedi- 
ately under the awning composed of many flags, and found 
ourselves in the presence of hundreds of ladies and gentle- 
men. The effect was astonishing : every color of the rain- 
bow, every form and fashion, nature and art ransacked to 
furnish gay and suitable habiliments for the belles, who 
with the beaux, in their court dresses, were gayly dancing to 
the inspiring strains of a magnificent band. The ladies 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 87 

had assumed youth and beauty in their persons, taste and 
splendor in their dress ; thousands of dollars having been 
expended by dashing fair ones in preparation of this 
fete 

" At the upper end of the quarter-deck sat Mrs. Madison, 
to whom we paid our respects, and then participated in the 
conversation and amusements with our friends, among 
whom were Mrs. Monroe, Mrs. Gallatin, etc. I did not 
dance (though ' 't was not for want of asking '), being 
totally unacquainted with the present style of cotillons, 
which were danced in the interstices, that is, on a space 
of four feet square. There was more opportunity to dis- 
play agility than grace, as an iron ring, coil of rope, or gun- 
carriage would prostrate a beau or belle. A number of 
gentlemen were introduced to me, among others Mr. John- 
stone, of Kentucky, a pleasant, sensible man, from whose 
conversation I derived much satisfaction, and who pre- 
sented to me the gallant Captain Hull and Lieutenant 
Morris, who so 'nobly fought the foe' on board the Con- 
stitution. 

" We naturally, in imagination, frame the figure of any 
character of celebrity ; and I must confess to being consid- 
erably disenchanted in my fancied hero's appearance. A 
little sturdy, fat-looking fellow, with a pair of good black 
eyes, but not 'like Mars to threaten and command,' I 
should never have suspected the gallant Captain Hull and 
the jolly little man to be one and the same person. Lieu- 
tenant Morris has a more interesting appearance ; is pale 

and thin The banquet consisted of every delicacy 

that the District could produce, — claret, Burgundy, and 
every vintage that could be wished for by connoisseurs. 
Mr. Payne Todd and Colonel Goodwyn were my cavaliers 
for the nonce. We rose from table at dark, and returned 
home with an interest in the fate of every brave sailor on 



83 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATOX. 

board ; and whatever good or ill fortune may befall Captain 
Stewart, lie will ever have the sympathy and good-will 
of our inhabitants j for, independent of his endeavors to 
contribute to the pleasure of his friends by incurring the 
expense of this party, his general amiability of deportment 
has interested them in himself and crew 

" It is customary to breakfast at nine o'clock, dine at four, 
and drink tea at eight, which division of time I do not like, 
but am compelled to submit. I am more surprised at the 
method of taking tea here than any other meal. In private 
families, if you step in of an evening, they give you tea 
and crackers, or cold bread ; and if by invitation, unless 
the party is very splendid, you have a few sweet-cakes, — 
maccaroons from the confectioner's. This is the extent. 
Once I saw a ceremony of preserves at tea ; but the defi- 
ciency is made up by the style at dinner, with extravagant 
wines, etc. Pastry and puddings going out of date and 
wine and ice-creams coming in, does not suit my taste, 
and I confess to preferring Ealeigh hospitality. I have 
never even heard of warm bread at breakfast 

"On Tuesday last was the grand naval ball, given in hon- 
or of Captains Hull, Morris, and Stewart, of which I must 

say a few words The assembly was crowded with 

a more than usual portion of the youth and beauty of 
the city, and was the scene of an unprecedented event, — 
two British flags unfurled and hung as trophies, in an 
American assembly, by American sailors. Iotriumphe! Be- 
fore we started our house had been illuminated, in token of 
our cheerful accordance with the general joy which pervad- 
ed the city, manifested by nearly every window being more 
or less lighted. This was inspiring, and calculated to give 
every patriot and old officer in Washington an inclination 
to join in the festivities of an evening devoted to the 
pleasing task of paying homage to the bravery and polite- 
ness of the naval heroes. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 89 

" The countenances of the old and young were bright 
and unclouded on our entrance, and cheerfulness was the 
order of the night, when suddenly a loud noise and huz- 
zaing were heard from below, and such running and con- 
fusion as I cannot describe. Some thought it fire, others 
that the unusual weight had caused the dancing-room to 
give way ; but all were relieved from terror by a wild- 
fire rumor that Lieutenant Hamilton had arrived with 
the Flags. My first dancing essay was checked, every 
man deserted his partner, and in a few minutes those 
who hoped the news to be true were gratified by ocular 
evidence of its certainty, while those sceptics who make it 
a point never to allow ' McDonald's army to prosper, right 
or wrong,' were convinced, apparently against their will, 
that for once American seamen were equal to Britons on 
the ocean. 

" Young Hamilton appeared, preceded by General Cush- 
ing, Hull, Morris, his father, and many old naval and field 
officers, and in a moment was encircled in the arms of his 
mother and sisters, who have never seen him since his 
providential escape from the Richmond Theatre, where he 
went with young Gibbon, who met with such a tragic fate. 
I cried excessively, and could not check my tears, at which 
I was considerably abashed; but, on looking around, I 
recovered, in the conviction that I was far from being 
singular. 

" After half an hour's congratulation and chat about our 
young officer's adventures, and a description of the seven- 
teen-minutes engagement with the Macedonian (which was 
never nearer than half a mile), I finished my cotillon, and, 
after dancing till midnight, retired from the exciting and 

gratifying scene Last night William had a supper, 

among our guests being Hull, Morris, Stewart, Hamilton, 
the Laws, and all the young officers " 



90 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

"January 2, 1813. 

"Soon after our arrival here I received a very polite 
message from Mrs. Gallatin, to the effect that ' as soon as I 
was established in my own house she would do herself the 
pleasure to wait on me.' Yesterday, however, I discovered 
that it is a point of etiquette for all new settlers in the city 
to make the first visit to the families of the Secretaries. 
This ceremony I knew was indispensable towards Mrs. 
Madison; but as Dr. Eustis and Mr. Hamilton have re- 
signed, it is now unnecessary in their case. Mrs. Gallatin's 
civility in calling on me prevented my suspecting that I had 
failed in politeness to the other officers of the Government; 
and this leads me to describe the brilliancy of her first 
ball. 

" The assembly was more numerous at the Secretary of 
the Treasury's, — more select, more elegant, than I have 
yet seen in the city. Ladies of fifty years of age were 
decked with lace and ribbons, wreaths of roses and gold 
leaves in their false hair, wreaths of jasmine across their 
bosom, and no kerchiefs ! Indeed, dear mother, I cannot 
reconcile this fashion to myself, and though the splendid 
dress of these antiquated dames of the beau monde adds to 
the general grandeur, it certainly only tends to make the 
contrast still more striking between them and the young 
and beautiful. Do you remember a frontispiece to one of 
the plays in the ' British Theatre,' — Bridget in the ' Chap- 
ter of Accidents 1 ' I can only think of this picture in 
beholding such incongruity of dress; while that of young 

girls is equally incompatible with general propriety 

Madame Bonaparte is a model of fashion, and many of our 
belles strive to imitate her ; . . . . but without equal eclat, 
as Madame Bonaparte has certainly the most transcendently 

beautiful back and shoulders that ever were seen It 

is the fashion for most of the ladies a little advanced in 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 91 

age to rouge and pearl, which is spoken of with as much 
sang froid as putting on their bonnets. Mrs. Monroe 
paints very much, and has, besides, an appearance of 
youth which would induce a stranger to suppose her age 
to be thirty : in lieu of which, she introduces them to her 
granddaughter, eighteen' or nineteen years old, and to her 
own daughter, Mrs. Hay, of Richmond. Mrs. Madison is 
said to rouge ; but not evident to my eyes, and I do not 
think it true, as I am well assured I saw her color come 
and go at the naval ball, when the Macedonian flag was 
presented to her by young Hamilton. Mrs. C. and Mrs. 
G. paint excessively, and think it becoming ; but with 
them it is no deception, only folly, and they speak of it as 
indispensable to a decent appearance. 

" But I have digressed from the entertainment. I am 
sure not ten minutes elapsed without refreshments being 
handed. 1st, coffee, tea, all kinds of toasts and warm 
cakes; 2d, ice-creams; 3d, lemonade, punch, burgundy, 
claret, curacpa, champagne ; 4th, bonbons, cakes of all 
sorts and sizes ; 5th, apples, oranges ; 6th, confectionery, 
denomination divers ; 7th, nuts, almonds, raisins ; 8th, set 
supper, composed of tempting solid dishes, meats, savory 
pasties garnished with lemon ; 9th, drinkables of every 
species ; 10th, boiling chocolate. The most profuse ball 

ever given in Washington I was engaged to John 

Law as a partner for cotillons the day before. This gen- 
tleman ranks high in William's estimation, and I am always 
pleased by his polite attentions in company. Governor 
Turner invited me to dance when I first entered the room, 
and I was glad of an excuse to plead a prior engagement, 
as I know the offer proceeded from goodness of heart 
which manifests itself in kindness to a good Carolinian, and 
not from a desire to dance in a crowd where / could hard- 
ly preserve my equilibrium. I danced also with Mr. Black- 



92 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

ledge. Mr. Pickens was not there, on account of his moth- 
er's death. Mr. Macon was very polite and lively, likewise 
William King ; who, though not so solid or amiable as Pick- 
ens, in my opinion, is a very pleasant companion. Young 
Swartout, who was so unfortunately entangled in Burr's 
web, was introduced to me, and I like him much. He 
was in town on Christmas Day, and William wished to in- 
vite him to dinner, but apprehensive that it would not be 
congenial to the other guests, postponed it ; though he 
esteems him highly, and he is universally admired by old 
and young. . . . 

" The issue of the Daily Paper gives us now every even- 
ing the duties of Proof Night, but Joseph and William 
divide their labors and cheerfully put their shoulders to 
the wheel, which makes everything smooth and agree- 
able. The President admires it, and indeed every one 
who has seen it, with this remark : ' But I am afraid it 
cannot be supported in such handsome style.' However, 
William and Joseph are both sanguine as to its success, 
and anticipate as many as five hundred subscribers before 

the conclusion of the year Miss M played at 

the drawing-room in ' high style,' but I think our D. G. 
could have excelled her. I played once at Mr. Madison's 
at a private party, but declined exhibiting at the drawing- 
room On New Year's Day we went to greet Mr. 

Madison, which ceremony is generally deemed a test of 
loyalty, and of course the terrace was thronged with 
carriages from 12 till 3 o'clock, with constant streams of 
visitors. Daschkoff, the Russian Minister, was there, and 
Serrurier, the French, both apparently uninteresting men, 
but most splendid in uniform and equipage. The good 
wishes for the New Year resounded from all quarters, and 
the Carolinians were very earnest in paying the compliments 
of the season to us. Indeed, I think that our members 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 93 

appear very well here generally. There is a most interest- 
ing, venerable revolutionary officer, Colonel dishing, with 
whom I am well acquainted, and who reminds me of Colo- 
nel Ingle : and I cannot help wishing I could see them 
together ' shoulder their crutch, and show how fields were 
won.' " 

Madame Patterson Bonaparte, the divorced wife and 
widow of Jerome Bonaparte, King of Westphalia, still 
survives her weak and selfish husband, and has recently 
followed to the grave their son, Jerome Napoleon Bona- 
parte. She has long outlived the despot whose decree 
invalidating her marriage enlisted in her behalf the 
sympathy of Europe, the indignation of her own coun- 
trymen, and the reprobation of France. With intel- 
lect, tact, courage, and energy as her only weapons, 
she resisted the imperial brother, who sought to de- 
grade her wifehood ; and spurned the unmanly poltroon 
who, at the dictate of ambition, avarice, and fear, falsi- 
fied the vows so solemnly pledged to the young wife, 
forswore the tender, passionate letters to his " beloved 
Eliza," and, summit of stony heartlessness, sought to 
wrest their child from its mother's arms. When, judg- 
ing her by his own dwarfed nature, King Jerome, after 
his soi-disant marriage with the amiable Princess 
Katherine, insulted the dignity of his true wife by 
offering to her acceptance the principality of Smalcand, 
she replied with spirit, that "Westphalia no doubt 
was a considerable kingdom, but not large enough to 
hold two queens." His malignity could devise no 
more worthy revenge than in his will to ignore her 
existence and that of her son, whose rights she person- 
ally contested in Paris with unabated vigor and resolu- 



04 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

tion ; but her son stood too near the throne, and her 
grandson, the handsome, gallant young officer, was too 
deeply seated in the affections of the French army, to 
render possible a verdict in their favor; which, in 
legalizing their claims, might have rendered them for- 
midable rivals, in the Napoleonic succession, to their 
young kinsman the Prince Imperial. During this 
trial, conducted on behalf of Madame Bonaparte with 
admirable skill by the renowned Berryer, Prince Xa- 
poleon, while disgracefully and successfully striving to 
defraud his father's son of his legitimate inheritance, 
cleverly characterized the brave woman battling for 
her son's birthright and her own wifely fame : " Am- 
bitieuse, un tact merveilleitx, un esprit indomitable, et 
pour le reste, une reputation sans tdche? 

Emile de Girardin, the brilliant litterateur and jour- 
nalist, an ardent supporter of Madame Bonaparte's 
opposing litigant, Prince Napoleon, asked her for a true 
estimate of King Jerome. " C'est un Hard qui s'est 
glissS par "hazard entre deux Napoleons" was the witty 
reply, — a mot keenly relished by the appreciative 
Parisians. 

Madame Bonaparte retains in marvellous force the 
well-stored memory, the grace and strength of phrase 
that distinguished her even amid the hosts of celebrities 
who make for us the history of their day, — a society 
irradiated by the brilliant if somewhat fatiguing mon- 
ologues of Madame de Stael, the Bussian finesse of 
Gortschakoff, — then young, subtle, handsome, and ir- 
resistible, — the masterly and tender eloquence of Le 
Maistre, and the lightning epigrams of Talleyrand, 
whose Damascene thrusts Madame Bonaparte parried 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 95 

with a blade nearly as keenly tempered as liis own. 
To these mental gifts was added a beauty of a Greek 
yet glowing type, which not even the pencil of Stu- 
art adequately portrayed in the exquisite portrait that 
he wished might be buried with him ; nor yet on his 
other canvas, which, with its dainty head in triple 
pose of loveliness, still smiles in unfading witchery, — 
a beauty which equalled that of her friends, Lady Jer- 
sey, the cynosure of the Eegent's Court, and the fair 
Lady Ellenborough, who eloped with Prince Swartzen- 
burg, and then, in emulation of the eccentric niece of 
Pitt, the Lady Hester Stanhope, fled to the desert to 
reign as queen of the Bedawee. Madame Bonaparte's 
charms did not pale even in the presence of Madame 
Eecamier and Princess Pauline Borghese, Napoleon's 
favorite but frivolous, heartless sister, whose beauty 
was the wonder of the day, and whose statue by Ca- 
nova, now one of Pome's treasures, fairly rivals that 
of her sister Venus, which, in the Pitti Palace, " en- 
chants the world." Madame Eecamier's empire over 
the hearts of men was due not more, perhaps, to her 
beauty — bewildering as it was with her soft eyes, se- 
ductive smile, dazzling skin, and shoulders of a god- 
dess— than to her subtle flattery, and the amiable tact 
that allowed her to recognize the lustre of neighbor- 
ing planets. " Vous etes la plus belle femme au monde" 
she said to Madame Bonaparte, "plus belle meme que 
la parfaite Pauline Borghese." 

" Mais ga est bien impossible, vie que ma belle sceur est 
parfaitement belle" was the deprecating reply. 

It was Madame Bonaparte's triumph, that in an era 
of society free to license, though its laxity was grace- 



9(3 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON". 

full) T veiled by the lingering refined elegance of ante- 
Imperial salons, her name should have remained un- 
sullied. Her romantic story, her anomalous position, 
her wit and beauty, made her a shining mark for the 
homage of the one sex, the envy of her own ; but her 
undeviating propriety and acknowledged discretion 
shielded her from even the whisper of detraction. 

" Chere Madame" said her good friend, the Grand 
Duke of Florence, — the Sovereign Prince recently dead, 
who was at that period the charm of his Court, as con- 
spicuous for his rigid principle as for the elegance of 
his person and captivating courtesy, — " chere Madame, 
savez vous aue nous sommes cVune singuliere moralite, 
vous et moi ? Nous seuls, dans ma belle et morale capi- 
tate, nous trouvous sans amant." 

It was Madame Bonaparte's misfortune not to have 
met the Emperor Napoleon, to whose greatness she 
ever paid willing and ardent tribute. Her rigorous 
exclusion from the shores of France would almost 
indicate that he feared the power of his new sister's 
attractions ; and with his actual sensibility to womanly 
charm, subordinate as it seemed to his cold, selfish 
ambition, it can hardly be doubted that she would 
have disarmed his anger, conquered his prejudice, re- 
gained her husband, and it may even be have changed 
the destiny of France, — have lived to see her son, an 
American Bonaparte, bequeath to his son and succes- 
sor the Imperial Throne. 

" January, 1813. 
" .... A few days since we were invited to Dr. E well's 
to a christening. This gentleman is a brother to the Dr. 
Ewell who was in Raleigh, and who speaks of your kind 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 97 

hospitality. Gratitude would seem to be a characteristic 
feature in this family. Having in the beginning of Hamil- 
ton's prosperity received some kindness from him, Dr. 
Ewell invited some fifty persons to celebrate the baptism 
of his son Paul Hamilton. Everything was conducted in 
much style, Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton occupying the head of 
the table at supper. Jones, the new Secretary, was not 
there, and at the conclusion of supper, Dr. Ewell, called on 
for a toast, made a graceful little speech, ajid bowing to the 
ex-Secretary, said emphatically, 

' Let others hail the rising sun, 
/ bow to him whose race is run.' 

" We saw a letter the other day from General Jackson 
to Mr. Monroe, in which he mentions having sent Major 
Gales into the town of Pensacola to demand the capitula- 
tion of the fort. We have since received a letter from 
Judge Toulmin, in which he mentions Thomas staying a 
day at his house with General Jackson. I long to hear 
again from New Orleans, though the last accounts are very- 
favorable, stating the army to be perfectly prepared. 
Crooks, editor of the Mercantile Advertiser, has sent us a 
London paper, in which is contained an extract from the Iris, 
from the pen of Montgomery, in answer to an abusive para- 
graph in a government paper edited by Canning. It is 
warm from Montgomery's heart, and exposes the ignorance 
and malice in regard to American affairs." 

Thomas Gales, the brother of Mrs. Seaton, was a man 
of brilliant promise, cut off in the flush of successful 
and vigorous manhood. He had followed the footsteps 
of his brother Joseph, in preparing himself as a prac- 
tical printer in Philadelphia, but preferring the profes- 
sion of law, studied under General "Walter Jones of 



98 . WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

Washington, the eminent lawyer. Being captivated by 
the representations of friends as to the promising field 
for his profession in Louisiana, he removed thither, and 
married the daughter of Alfred Hennen, Esq., of New 
Orleans, a lady beautiful in person and of superior 
powers of mind. In a few months he was appointed 
by General Wilkinson, then commander-in-chief, 
Judge- Advocate- General of the Southern Department, 
and Justice of Faubourg St. Marie, which arduous 
position he filled well, being held in high esteem. 
He took an active part during the war, being on 
General Jackson's staff at Pensacola, where, at the sur- 
render of the fort, he with his own hands hauled down 
the Union Jack and ran up the American flag. He 
possessed in a remarkable degree varied social powers, 
a generous nature, with a cultivated, energetic mind. 

" March 5, 1813. 

# " . . . . Mrs. Madison called on me last week, and very 
politely invited me to attend the drawing-room of Wednes- 
day, and 'not to desert the standard altogether,' which, prom- 
ising to do, I prevailed on William to accede to my wishes. 
Judge Johnson pushed his way through the crowd to speak 
to me, saying, with his usual gallantry, that ' he had been 
examining every group of Youth and Beauty in expectation 
of identifying Mrs. Seaton.' Immediately afterwards a gen- 
tleman came up with Judge Marshall, who had inquired for 
me, and wished to pay his compliments, he said. You may 
remember, perhaps, that I always stood high in his good 

graces Our dinner-party on Saturday consisted of 

Judge Johnson, Colonel Swift, Major William Hamilton, 
Mr. Boiling Robinson, from New Orleans, and a few other 
strangers Mr. Robinson is a young man, extremely 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 99 

prepossessing in his appearance and manners, originally 
from Petersburg, and exceedingly popular. I should like 
you to be acquainted with him, as he is a fine, noble, inde- 
pendent man, whose genius and benevolence are reflected 
in his countenance, and whose brilliant intrinsic merit ren- 
ders him a favorite visitor at our house 

" Yesterday the most crowded and interesting sight we 
ever witnessed was presented to our view in the inauguration 
of Mr. Madison. Escorted by the Alexandria, Georgetown 
and city companies, the President proceeded to the Capitol. 
Judge Marshall, and the associate Judges, preceded him and 
placed themselves in front of the Speaker's chair, from 
whence the Chief Magistrate delivered his inaugural ad- 
dress ; but his voice was so low, and the audience so very 
great, that scarcely a word could be distinguished. On con- 
cluding, the oath of office was administered by the Chief 
Justice, and the little man was accompanied on his return 
to the palace by the multitude; for every creature that 
could afford twenty-five cents for hack-hire was present. 
The major part of the respectable citizens offered their 
congratulations, ate his ice-creams and bonbons, drank his 
Madeira, made their bow and retired, leaving him fatigued 
beyond measure with the incessant bending to which his 
politeness urged him, and in which he never allows him- 
self to be eclipsed, returning bow for bow, even to those 
ad infinitum of Serrurier and other foreigners 

" You will regret to hear that your good friend Joel Barlow 
is dead. I send the notice of the event from foreign papers. 
Although of too tender an age to appreciate the generous 
and brilliant qualities of this eminent man when the recip- 
ient of his kindness in Germany, I still retain a vivid 
remembrance of his appearance and manners. The place 
and circumstances attending his death seemed a fitting 
close to his volcanic and eccentric career." 



100 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

Joel Barlow exercised a very uncommon influence 
over men through his personal eloquence, and it was 
doubtless to employ him in the furtherance of some pro- 
ject by which to win the popular good- will, that the 
Emperor Napoleon, who judged highly of his ability, 
requested his presence at Wilna, where, overcome by 
excitement and a forced journey, Mr. Barlow was at- 
tacked by his fatal illness. The unfavorable feeling- 
excited against him in America in consequence of his 
reputed atheism — a mistaken charge, for he was a 
deist — was founded chiefly upon Ms intimacy with 
Tom Paine, who, when imprisoned in France by the 
Jacobins, had intrusted his " Age of Eeason " to Mr. 
Barlow's care for publication ; but the prejudice, al- 
though diminished, still existed and formed one count 
in the indictment against him on the occasion of his 
nomination as Minister to France. The vote of Timo- 
thy Pickering in his favor having at the time excited 
invidious comment, Colonel John Lee, .a distinguished 
citizen of Maryland, obtained from Mr. Pickering the 
following valuable memorandum of the debate in se- 
cret session on Mr. Barlow's appointment, which has 
not hitherto been made public : — 

" Against the nomination it was said, — 

"1. That Mr. Barlow stood on the books of the 
Treasury a debtor to the United States. 

" 2. That he went to France poor and returned rich, 
without any known means of acquiring wealth ; hence 
it was inferred that he had acquired his wealth by im- 
proper means, and the speculations in American claims 
under the Louisiana Treaty were mentioned as a pos- 
sible mode. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 101 

" 3. That having lived in France many years, there 
must be his predilection and attachments, and that he 
was also a French citizen. 

" 4. That Mr. Barlow was a poet, and poets dealing 
in visions were ill qualified for the business of the 
world. Addison and Prior were mentioned as in- 
stances. And an opinion (by General Smith) was 
explicitly given, that Mr. Barlow was not qualified for 
the mission. 

" 5. That he had no mercantile knowledge, which 
would be very important in enforcing claims for the 
restitution of American property in France." 

" To the first objection, Mr. Clay produced a letter 
from the Comptroller of the Treasury to Mr. Barlow, 
stating that his accounts of moneys expended in nego- 
tiating treaties with the Barbary powers had been 
finally closed at the treasury ; and with respect to his 
being a French citizen, Mr. Clay stated that this citi- 
zenship was merely honorary, and that the title of 
French citizenship was by the same act conferred on 
General Washington and General Hamilton. Mr. 
Pickering stated that he knew Mr. Barlow when a 
chaplain in the Bevolutionary war, that he maintained 
a good character until he went to France, — that 
whore of Babylon which had polluted the world ; 
that it was understood that Mr. Barlow, in France, 
had renounced his belief in the Christian religion, but 
not that he had become an atheist, though at one 
period of the French revolution it had been for- 
mally proclaimed in their national Assembly that 
there was no God, and that afterwards Eobespierre 
claimed much merit for causing a counter declara- 



102 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

tion to be made in favor of God; that Mr. Barlow 
possessed an understanding superior to such an opin- 
ion, which only fools could entertain ; that his being a 
deist could not be a serious objection with the party 
now in power, nor with a majority of the people of 
the United States, who had raised to higher offices — 
the highest in the nation — men whose faith was 

doubtless the same with Mr. Barlow's That it 

was true that Mr. Barlow was a poet, but certainly not 
a mere poet, for it had been objected against him that 
he had become rich, — a proof that he understood the 
world as well as poetry ; that his abilities and general 
literature were well known, and in his reading it was 
most probable that he had made the law of nations a 
part of his studies. That in the early period of the 
French Eevolution he had written some pamphlets 
which gained him considerable distinction; and it 
was also true that he had written some things that 
were extravagant. There was at the time a political 
frenzy, and Mr. Barlow appears to have been within 
its vortex. This fanaticism pervaded the United 
States ; and Mr. Pickering confessed that he had him- 
self partaken of the general enthusiasm of his country 
in favor of the revolution, and entertained the hope 
that a new government was to be established in 
France, — a hope frustrated by the atrocious conduct 

of its successive rulers That, for his own part, 

Mr. Pickering had no reason to be pleased with Mr. 
Barlow; on the contrary, his conduct at the time 
when the French Directory most grossly insulted the 
government of the United States, appeared to be very 
reprehensible. That the sentiments expressed by Mr. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 103 

Barlow in a letter to his brother-in-law, Mr. Baldwin, 
concerning our government, were so exceptionable as 
to attract Mr. Pickering's notice, in a report he made 
to President Adams on French affairs and Mr. Gerry's 
negotiations at Paris, which the President communi- 
cated to Congress, and in which Mr. Pickering had 
pointedly reprobated the conduct of Mr. Barlow. That 
this very conduct of Mr. Barlow was acceptable to the 
party then in opposition, and now in power. That 
Mr. Barlow now entertained very different sentiments 
respecting the French. That he had an intimate knowl- 
edge of the language, — a consideration of some con- 
sequence to a Minister to that government. That 
although Mr. Barlow would be a most improper Minis- 
ter to send to the Court of London, yet he possessed 
so many qualifications suited to that of Paris, that Mr. 
Pickering was disposed to vote in favor of the nomina- 
tion. In answer to the objection that Mr. Barlow was 
not qualified to enforce the claims for restitution of 
American property seized and sequestered by the 
French Emperor, Mr. Pickering remarked, that if the 
objection were well founded, he really thought it of 
little consequence, because there was no ground to 
expect that even one cent would ever be restored. 
The French Emperor took, and held, that property as 
a pledge that our government would conform, to his 
views in respect to Great Britain. But Mr. Pickering 
considered the measure now agitated in the other 
House to be so far from a compliance with the Em- 
peror's expectations, that if it should be adopted, 
Bonaparte would make it a cause for confiscating the 
whole of the American property at once. We know, 



104 "WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

too, that if Bonaparte is not furnished with a pretext, 
he can easily fabricate one. Witness his making the 
non-intercourse law a ground for confiscating Ameri- 
can vessels and cargoes, on the principle of retaliation 
for the confiscation of French vessels in the ports of 
the United States, when not one such vessel had been 
touched! We should also recollect the information 
given by General Armstrong respecting the neutral 
property seized and then under sequestration in France, 
amounting to twenty million of livres : ' that the very 
magnitude of the sum was a decisive reason why the 
Emperor would not release it.' But the American 
property in his hands now amounted to a much larger 
sum, — probably to twenty millions of dollars, — which 
proportionally strengthened his motives never to let 

go-" 

Mr. Barlow's distinction, and extended fame in two 
hemispheres, render every memento of so brilliant a 
man valuable ; and the subjoined notes from the auto- 
graphs are interesting, as bearing trace of the great 
men and events with whom he was familiarly asso- 
ciated : — 

"A Monsieur, Monsieur Barlow, 

Hotel de Languedoc, Eue Grenelle, St. Honore. 

" Mr. Jefferson presents his compliments to Mr. Barlow. 
He wished yesterday to have had more particular conversa- 
tion with him, but the circumstances of the moment did 
not permit it. He should be very happy to see Mr. Barlow 
at a family dinner to-day, where he will be more at liberty 
in his inquiries, and have a better opportunity to show his 
respect for him. Mr. Barlow will be so good as to bring 
with him his young charge, Master Greene. 

"Saturday, July 5, 1788." 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 105 

"Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States, 
Washington. 

" Dear Sir, — The bearers of this, the two Mr. Emmets, 
from Ireland, have been particularly and grievously per- 
secuted by the English government for their political opin- 
ions ; that is, for their inflexible and enlightened attachment 
to those principles of liberty which they, and we, think 
ought to prevail in all societies. 

" The elder Mr. Emmet was an eminent counsellor in 
Dublin. He was imprisoned and detained there after the 
peace. His brother took refuge in Paris, where he has 
occupied himself in pursuit of the sciences, with good< 
proficiency. They have now chosen America for their 
second country, — a movement which, if our fathers had 
not made it for us, you and I might be making at this 
moment. May I beg you, dear sir, to favor them with 
your good advice, as well as other acts of friendship and 
protection which may be useful to them. I know not 
what fortune they carry, except that of fair and honorable 
reputations and good talents. 

" Your obedient servant, 

"Joel Barlow. 

"Paris, 29 July, 1802. 
"To Mr. Jefferson." 

"To Mrs. Swan, Boston. 

" Dear Mrs. Swan, — The continuance of your grief for 
the loss of our excellent friend, General Jackson, awakens 
all my sympathy, and has induced me, at last, to give 
utterance to those feelings which I had hitherto suppressed. 
It is, indeed, a heavy loss — a wide breach in the circle of 
my friends as well as in that of yours ; and since you could 
not doubt of my most cordial condolence, it seemed to me 
that my silence would be more efficacious than my language 
in obtaining for you that relief which your own habitual 
5* 



106 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

reflections on the frailty of human dependencies could not 
fail to furnish. But as you call for a communication of 
sentiment on the virtues and character of our friend, let us 
indulge a moment in the melancholy recital. To dwell on 
the amiable qualities of those we love, is to strengthen such 
qualities in ourselves. 

"The place of his birth and education being distant 
from mine, many of' his surviving friends must have known 
him longer than I did, though few have known him better. 
I knew him an early and zealous military volunteer in the 
service of our country in its revolutionary war. I knew 
him always at the post of duty, frequently at that of 
danger. He raised a regiment in 1776, which he con- 
tinued to conduct, with skill and bravery, through all 
the vicissitudes of fatigue and privation, through battles, 
defeats, and victories, till the object was attained for which 
he drew his sword, — the liberty of his country. At the 
peace of 1783 — not so much in imitation of the Roman 
Cincinnatus as in obedience to the call of honest industry — 
he retired with the other illustrious relics of our armies 
to the pursuits of civil life. These pursuits, though less 
brilliant than those of war, are sometimes more difficult to 
follow with consistency, as the history of our country 
hUs abundantly proved. How many of his former fellow- 
laborers in the arduous toils of independence have for- 
gotten the principles they once taught us to revere ; and, 
as if disgusted with their own good fame, are striving to 
destroy the institutions with which that fame was united ! 
Our departed friend never deviated from himself in this 
unhappy manner. Henry Jackson continued firmly to 
support the republican system which General Jackson had 
assisted to establish. 

" If it was this adhesion to principle that lost him the 
affections of some of his few companions in arms who 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 107 

survive him in his native city of Boston, — if it was really 
for this reason, as I have understood, that they suffered 
his body to be committed to the ground without the ac- 
customed pomp of military honors (vain pomp indeed, but 
sufficiently important in their view to be withheld, as a 
mark of disapprobation), let us pity them : it is n ;t upon 
our friend that this dishonor falls. No ! the stain of dis- 
honor never touched him when alive, and death has now 
placed him forever beyond its reach. 

" But as you may intend this letter for publication, it 
is not so important to dwell upon public character and 
political principles, which are well known to his country, 
as to bring into view the less conspicuous, but more 
endearing traits that distinguish him from most of those 
who have been dear to us in life. A purer heart, or a 
finer sense of duty than his, never guided the actions 
of a human being. His natural desire of doing good was 
strengthened by constant exercise ; and beneficent actions 
became so habitual as to be almost indispensable among 
his daily enjoyments. 

" His private fortune, though ample for himself and for 
charity, was made so by a virtuous attention to frugality, 
by moderating his expenses and avoiding extravagant spec- 
ulations. He seemed to consider himself only as the 
steward of his own estate ; as if the property of it belonged 
to his friends who were less fortunate than he, or less 
regular in their habits of life. To mention particular in- 
stances that may have come to our knowledge would 
betray his confidence ; and though the cause of morals 
would often gain by a less scrupulous concealment of good 
actions than their authors observe, yet secrets of this kind 
are a property to which the public has no right until the 
proprietors choose to give it up. 

" If, my dear madam, these feeble expressions of my 



108 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

regret should afford you any consolation for the loss of 
our incomparable friend, it will be from the assurance that 
I knew his worth, and that my attachment was founded 
on the same moral qualities in him which gave rise to 
your own. My consolation must arise from the contin- 
uance of your friendship to me and my wife ; and from the 
confidence that your excellent heart, so nearly resembling 
his, will induce you, not only to continue your usual 
course of charities, but adopt in some measure the objects 
of his own ; and do much of the good that he would have 
done had not a wiser dispensation arrested his career. 
" Accept our best affections, 

"Joel Barlow. 
" Kalorama, March 7, 1809. 

At the period of Mr. Seaton's arrival in Washing- 
ton, hostilities had already been declared against 
Great Britain. The country was roused to a spirit of 
patriotic fervor, although party feeling ran so high as 
to imperil the necessary measures of policy adopted 
"by President Madison, to whose Administration the 
Intelligencer stood in the most intimate and faithful 
relations. " During the entire course of the war that 
journal sustained most vigorously all the measures 
needful for carrying it on with efficiency ; and it did 
equally good service in reanimating, whenever it had 
slackened at any disaster, the drooping spirit of our 
people. Nor did its editors, when there were two, stop 
at these proofs of sincerity, nor shrink when danger drew 
near, from that hazard of their own persons to which 
they had stirred up the country." * 

The metropolis, from its exposed and ill-prepared 
condition, seemed to invite the enemy's assault : and 

* Atlantic Monthly, 1860. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 109 

each day the public ear was strained to catch the 
boom of the first gun that should announce the 
advance of the British squadron up the Potomac, or 
the descent upon the city by Boss. 

Mrs. Seaton writes under date of March, 1813 : — 

" Your fears, my dear mother, were not entirely without 
foundation, though we laughed you out of them when 
they were mentioned. When our removal to Washington 
was in contemplation, you expressed apprehension lest we 
should be exposed to British invasion and consequent 
cruelty. You will see by the Federal Republican, that the 
plan might be carried into execution without a miracle, 
of seizing the President and Secretaries with fifty or a 
hundred men ; and rendering this nation a laughing-stock 
to every other in the world. I did not think much of 
these possibilities until hearing them discussed by General 
Van Ness and others, who, far from wishing a parade of 
guards or ridiculous apprehensions to be entertained, were 
yet anxious that the city should not be unprepared for 
a contingency the danger of which did certainly exist. 
Col. Swift since his arrival here has sent an officer to Nor- 
folk to inspect and make proper arrangements, and appears 
anxious to receive news of the results." 

At the first call of danger Mr. Seaton and Mr. 
Gales enrolled themselves as privates in a volunteer 
infantry company, commanded by the gallant Cap- 
tain John Davidson, encamped at Fort Warburton, the 
present site of Fort Washington ; and served with 
this corps on the various expeditions on which it was 
detached during the war. Mrs. Seaton continues to 
depict the uneasiness of the inhabitants at this im- 
minent danger of invasion. • 



110 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

"July 20, 1813. 
" . . . . We still remain passive sufferers under the al- 
most intolerably distressing state of suspense. Joseph has 
been home twice to attend to the paper, riding all night 
and returning the next day. William has never been home, 
but has removed six miles below Warburton with his com- 
pany to intercept the enemy's scouting-parties and prevent 
their landing in small bodies. There are a sufficient num- 
ber of troops at the fort and near it, it is generally allowed, 
but some fears are entertained of the enemy's approach in 
another direction ; and though every precaution and prepa- 
ration have been made, the citizens are in a cruel state of 
alarm. You will see that Congress has reported that we 
are in a securely defended position, nevertheless it is not to 
be expected that our fears can be so easily calmed after an 
excessive fright. I have no personal fears, being with my 
children in the abode of safety, at Mr. Smith's house. 
The British, peradventure they reach the city, would be 
in too violent a hurry to make good their retreat after 
the perpetration of all the mischief they might be able to 
effect, to stop for a moment in the interior of the country. 
Many families from the navy-yard and Capitol Hill have 
proposed to stay here during the continuance of the British 
in our waters, but Mrs. Henry Clay, Mrs. Cutting, and my 
family are all who are pressingly, tenderly urged to stay 
during this tempestuous season of disturbance. No un- 
easiness, therefore, is experienced here personally, but the 
possibility of either of our dear protectors being injured 
at Warburton, fills us with inexpressible anguish, you will 
readily conceive. Joseph assures us most solemnly that 
he does not believe they will dare attempt to land or pass 
the numerous and brave force of volunteers and regulars 
who are assembled, and positively believes that there will 
be no fighting. William and he are both perfectly w T ell 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. Ill 

and in excellent spirits, which augurs well for victory if 
engaged, or a peaceable return. They have an express 
engaged to let us know every morning of their welfare. 
Nine of the office men are volunteers, and there are only 
three men and three boys left to get the paper out. Joseph 
will apply to General Armstrong for a furlough for William 
to come up from below, attend to the paper, and return 
the following day; so I shall go to the city to see my 
beloved, my devoted husband. Be perfectly at ease, I 
entreat you, as in case of an absolute attack on the city we 
should be still secure ; and our protectors at Warburton 
would not be exposed to danger either, as the British would 
come up another way without exposing themselves to the 
fire of the fort " 

"July 22, 1813. 
" . . . . William came from the camp yesterday, and 
after arranging the paper will return by daylight. He and 
Joseph will now come alternately during the time it may 
be thought necessary that the troops should remain on 
duty. Their friends think it out of reason that the paper 
should be neglected, and are of opinion that the proper and 
continual direction of the public record printed in their 
office is of infinitely more importance than any individual 
exertion they could possibly make in the camp ; but this 
arrangement of one staying and one going would be very 
unpleasant, and they appear more disposed to encounter 
danger, or rather exertion, together, than separate. Jo- 
seph would more naturally incur the imputation of disin- 
clination to defend his country from enemies than William, 
from the accident of being a foreigner, and therefore I 
should like him to prove the contrary, if he has indeed a 
political enemy who would be so ungenerous as to asperse 
his actions and motives. William, on the other hand, has 
been more accustomed to military duty, always belonging 



112 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

to a company in Kichmond from boyhood, and being also 
a sportsman skilled in the free nse of fire-arms. But for 
the necessity of one or the other being here, I should be 
unwilling for them to leave their companies even for a day, 
as they are a brave, handsomely disciplined corps as any 
in the District, and appear united as a band of brothers, 
encouraging each other in activity and good spirits. There 
is not a single instance of sickness in the whole number of 

3,000 men There were only two pressmen left in 

the office, and one of them ill this evening, so that the 

paper will be published with great difficulty The 

House is sitting with closed doors to-day on a confidential, 
message from the President, which is very well, as there 
would be no one to attend the debates or to take any note 
of their business. You will see that prejudice exists as 
strongly here against foreigners as anywhere, the Senate 
refusing to confirm Mr. Gallatin's appointment ! " 

In December, 1813, Mr. Gales married Miss Juliana 
Lee, the beautiful and accomplished daughter of Mr. 
Theodoric Lee of Westmoreland, Virginia. 

"January 2, 1814. 
" . . . . Yesterday being New Year's day, evert/body, 
affected or disaffected towards the government, attended to 
pay Mrs. Madison the compliments of the season. Be- 
tween one and two o'clock we drove to the President's, 
where it was with much difficuly we made good our 
entrance, though all of our acquaintances endeavored with 
the utmost civility to compress themselves as small as they 
could for our accommodation. The marine band, stationed 
in the ante-room, continued playing in spite of the crowd 
pressing on their very heads. But if our pity was excited 
for these hapless musicians, w T hat must we not have ex- 
perienced for some members of our own sex, who, not fore- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 113 

seeing the excessive heat of the apartments, had more 
reason to apprehend the efforts of nature to relieve her- 
self from the effects of the confined atmosphere. You 
perhaps will not understand that I allude to the rouge 
which some of our fashionables had unfortunately laid on 
with an unsparing hand, and which assimilating with the 
pearl-powder, dust and perspiration, made them altogether 
unlovely to soul and to eye. 

" Her majesty's appearance was truly regal, — dressed 
in a robe of pink satin, trimmed elaborately with ermine, a 
white velvet and satin turban, with nodding ostrich-plumes 
and a crescent in front, gold chain and clasps around the 
waist and wrists. 'T is here the woman who adorns the 
dress, and not the dress that beautifies the woman. I 
cannot conceive a female better calculated to dignify the 
station which she occupies in society than Mrs. Madison, — 
amiable in private life and affable in public, she is admired 
and esteemed by the rich and beloved by the poor. You 
are aware that she snuffs ; but in her hands the snuff-box 
seems only a gracious implement with which to charm. 
Her frank cordiality to all guests is in contrast to the manner 
of the President, who is very formal, reserved and precise, yet 
not wanting in a certain dignity. Being so low of stature, 
he was in imminent danger of being confounded with the 
plebeian crowd ; and was pushed and jostled about like a 
common citizen, — but not so with her ladyship ! The 
towering feathers and excessive throng distinctly pointed 
out her station wherever she moved. 

"After partaking of some ice-creams and a glass of 
Madeira, shaking hands with the President and tendering 
our good wishes, we were preparing to leave the rooms, 
when our attention was attracted through the window 
towards what we conceived to be a rolling ball of burnished 
gold, carried with swiftness through the air by two gilt 



114 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

wings. Our anxiety increased the nearer it approached, 
until it actually stopped before the door ; and from it 
alighted, weighted with gold lace, the French Minister and 
suite. We now also perceived that what we had supposed 
to be wings, were nothing more than gorgeous footmen 
with chapeaux bras, gilt braided skirts and splendid swords. 
Nothing ever was witnessed in Washington so brilliant and 
dazzling, — a meridian sun blazing full on this carriage 
filled with diamonds and glittering orders, and gilt to the 
edge of the wheels, — you may well imagine how the 
natives stared and rubbed their eyes to be convinced 't was 
no fairy dream 

" I have just had a most delightful conversation with 
Mr. Wirt of Richmond, who called to see me, and pro- 
longed his visit, finding me alone, very much to my grati- 
fication. He is one of the •most elegant belles lettres scholars 
I ever met ; and excels in colloquial talent as much as 
he does in descriptive prose. I wish you knew him, as he 
is a being of the first order." 

"June 27, 1814. 

" . . . . Joseph has returned within an hour from a 
fatiguing and really dangerons expedition, without any 
other injury than excessive weariness, after being' exposed 
to the fire of the British on an open plain, where the balls 
whistled round his ears for the first time. The scene was 
novel to him, but unlike most other novelties, it was not 
pleasing. He volunteered his services while absent, on 
every occasion of fatigue or hazard which occurred ; and 

was always ' to the fore ' when they expected attack 

William has held himself in readiness to be called out with 
his company at a moment's warning ; but I trust they will 
have no further occasion for their services, as Gen. Arm- 
strong has issued orders for the return of those who are at 
Benedict. Sunday, the day on which the cavalry, riflemen 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 115 

and infantry from Georgetown and Washington started to 
Nottingham, was a distressing period. Seeing Joseph go, 
and expecting William to be ordered off every moment, 
rendered the parade which took place before our door 
previous to starting extremely painful False re- 
ports reached us from the scene of action, it being con- 
fidently asserted that six of Capt. Caldwell's troopers were 
killed ; and you may imagine that each individual having 
relatives in the troop trembled and conceived the loss 
theirs. There was something very awful at the sight of 
cannon rattling through the streets, surrounded by sol- 
diers, chiefly friends. I had never seen these dreadful imple- 
ments of war associated with the idea of their immediate 
destination and probable use. The present danger has 
passed: yet we are kept in a perpetual state of alarm. 
Capt. Davidson's volunteers, among whom is William, were 
left in the city as our safeguard " 

Mr. Gales was absent on furlough for the purpose of 
placing his wife and Mrs. Seaton and family in safety 
at Raleigh ; and Mr. Seaton was at the editorial post 
on the memorable morning of August 24, 1814, when 
the sound of the distant gun brought dismayed con- 
viction to the affrighted and ill-prepared city, that the 
British were in truth advancing in force on the Capital. 
Dismissing the workmen to their respective corps, and 
closing the office, Mr. Seaton hastened to join his com- 
pany, then at the Eastern Branch, which at once pro- 
ceeded to the front, meeting the enemy at Bladensburg, 
where, placed in the advance, it acted a conspicuous 
part in the sharp engagement that ensued. Mr. Sea- 
ton always deprecated the injustice which, this really 
spirited skirmish received at the hands of history; 



116 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

and was glad when the incidents of the action were 
placed in their true light by the late Colonel John S. 
Williams, a nephew of the gallant Kevolutionary pa- 
triot, General Otho Williams of Maryland, and a par- 
ticipator in the events he impartially narrates in his 
" Invasion of Washington." 

The editors of the Intelligencer, in upholding their 
country's rights, in animating the public by their 
ardent and effective appeals to patriotism, had in an 
especial manner excited the ire of the valorous in- 
vaders ; and no surer attestation of the value of their 
labors could have been offered than in the inglorious 
act of Admiral Cockburn, who caused the Intelligencer 
office to be sacked ; and ordering the books and other 
property of the establishment to be piled on the banks 
of the canal, set fire to and destroyed them, himself 
urging the mariners to the pitiful work. The building 
was spared, however, at the intercession of the women 
of the neighborhood, who alone remained to guard 
the premises, there having been a levy en masse of 
the men. Sala, the brilliant English author, when in 
this country, in commenting on Cockbum's petty 
revenge on the editors, says: "The National Intel- 
ligencer still lives, and, what is more, the editor is 
living too. I had the honor of seeing Colonel Seaton 
one night, — a hale gentleman of eighty, very much 
resembling Lord Brougham in appearance, in full 
possession of his powers, editing his Intelligencer as 
fearlessly under the sway of Abraham Lincoln as he 
was wont to do under James Madison, — revered for 
his blameless character, and, as the Nestor of American 
journalism of the higher class, universally esteemed, 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 117 

not only by the great of his own country, but by all 
the diplomatic corps of Washington. But there is no 
doubt about our having thrown his types out of the 
window." 

These types fortunately were partly saved by the 
energy of an Englishwoman attached to the family, 
who has also additional claim to mention, as having in 
her youth known Dr. Samuel Johnson, — the burly 
lexicographer having at one period lived in her vil- 
lage, — on whose knee she had often sat, and who had 
given her a sacredly . treasured pair of silver shoe- 
buckles. 

It would be an injustice to include in censure all 
the British officers under Cockburn's command in this 
invasion, his inglorious deeds having been, in .truth, 
checked by a gallant Guardsman, to whom reference 
is made in the following letter from General George 
H. Stewart, a gallant Marylander, conspicuous in the 
skirmish of Bladensburg and the defence of Baltimore. 
Major, now Sir Norman Pringle, often, in later years, 
spoke to Americans of the mortification felt by him- 
self and comrades at the vandalism disgracing the 
capture of Washington. He is a high-toned, well- 
bred, soldierly gentleman, of an ancient Scotch house, 
doing honor to the baronetcy to which he has recently 
succeeded. 

"I do not remember to have mentioned to you that I 
wrote to our friend Major Pringle, at Stockholm, advising 
him to apply for one of the vacant consulates in this coun- 
try, which I presume are more desirable than the one he 
now fills in Sweden. Pringle replied, that perhaps his 
presence here would not be acceptable, as he had been 



118 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

with the army in the capture of Washington, and conse- 
quently might have incurred some odium on that account. 
I rejoined that no one here would feel any the slightest 
objection to him on that score ; and when it should be 
explained that he was detailed with his Grenadier company 
to protect private propeHy on Pennsylvania Avenue (which 
duty he performed faithfully and successfully, during the 
night, to the satisfaction of General Ross, and also of the 
citizens of that locality), I thought his appointment to any 

consulate here would be acceptable 

" Yours faithfully, 

"G. H. Stewart." 
"Colonel W. W. Seaton." 

One of the most notable of Mr. Seaton's circle of 
friends, and chief, indeed, among the social celebrities 
of "Washington at that period, was Mr. Thomas Law, 
of whom few persons then living had not some anec- 
dote to relate, as well respecting his eccentricities as 
his brilliant talent. This distinguished gentleman was 
a younger brother of Lord Ellenborough, who had suc- 
ceeded Lord Kenyon as Lord Chief Justice of the 
King's Bench, being raised to the peerage on his 
accession to the dignity of Lord Chancellor of Eng- 
land; a second brother being Bishop of Bath and 
Wells. Mr. Law's early life was passed in India 
with Lord Cornwallis, holding there a high civil 
trust which he discharged with signal ability, receiv- 
ing, on the resignation of his office, many gratifying 
testimonials to the beneficence of his rule. Infected 
by the spirit of liberty then moving all nations to 
violent upheaval, Mr. Law's enthusiasm was roused in 
favor of Republican institutions, and, inspired with 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 119 

ardent admiration for the character of Washington, 
he came to America; having, however, no political 
affinities whatever in this country. He attracted much 
attention from his fine person, aristocratic connections, 
and undoubted genius, and also from his wealth, which, 
accumulated in the golden days of India, was dissi- 
pated chiefly through building speculations, for which 
he had a mania ; while he was also generous, prodigal 
indeed, in good works, as in the hospitalities dispensed 
at his country-seat near Washington. Mr. Law mar- 
ried Miss Anne Custis, sister of the well-known George 
Washington Parke Custis, of Arlington, the adopted 
son of Washington ; but his numerous peculiarities 
unfitted him for domestic life. His eccentricities were 
many ; one of his habits being to carry in his hand a 
piece of dough, which he constantly manipulated, the 
loss of which would cause him to lose the thread of his 
story. His absence of mind was at times inconvenient, 
being obliged, when asking on one occasion at the post- 
office for his letters, to confess that he did not remember 
his name ; but a few moments afterwards, meeting a 
friend who saluted him as Mr. Law, he hurried back, 
gave his address, and received his mail. Another more 
embarrassing instance of his distrait faculties occurred 
at Berkeley Springs, where, after a bath, forgetting to 
dress, he appeared in the crowded grove in puris natu- 
ralibus, scattering consternation among the prome- 
naders. A note from a lady residing in his house for 
some time winds up the enumeration of his oddities 
by saying, " What an uncomfortable, extraordinary old 
man he is, with his ' instinctive impulses ! ' on which 
theme he theorizes, as upon ( elective affinities.' " 



120 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

Mr. Law was an enthusiast, and regarded by les3 
sanguine mortals as more than visionary, especially 
when riding his hobby, the currency question, reams 
of discussion on this his favorite topic being in Mr. 
Seaton's library. In religious views he was a deist ; 
and although he subscribed to the building of the 
Unitarian church, and went often to enjoy the simple, 
touching eloquence of Eobert Little, its first pastor, he 
remarked on the first occasion of hearing him : " To 
think that Little was talking about Jesus Christ, and 
that 1 did not know he believed in that sort of thing ! " 
Mr. Law was also quite a graceful poet, his Vers de 
Socie'te being highly prized in the bright circle, the 
incidents and personages of which he cleverly com- 
memorated. Mrs. Seaton writes in November, 1814 : — 

" Mr. Law yesterday brought me some lines applicable 
and striking, to us who are spectators of the ruins of the 
Capitol, and listeners to the constant disputation concern- 
ing a removal of the seat of government, or a rebuilding 
of the public offices. You can only half appreciate his 
effusions when deprived of the advantage of hearing him 
read them himself, as he is an energetic declaimer, and 
possessed of a full-toned, melodious voice. We see . much 
of him and his sons, John and Edmund, who are both 
perfectly unexceptionable as regards either their manners, 
principles, or acquirements." 

"A DREAM. 

The scene of conflagration which by day 
Excited feelings painful to convey, 
Appeared in sleep ; and faintly I disclose 
The pleasing vision which in dreams arose. 
High on the Capitol's smeared, smoky wall, 
Midst fractured pillars of the Congress Hall 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 121 

Columbia sat : full frequent heaved the sigh, 

And griefs dull languor floated in her eye. 

With wild emotion every feature wrought, 

Her air was sorrow, and her look was thought. 

Lo ! smiling Liberty, with heavenly grace, 

And form angelic, gives a warm embrace ; 

" Mourn not," she said, "the vandal's savage flame,— 

A lasting tarnish to the invader's fame ; 

To just revenge thy children it inspires, 

And makes them emulate their sainted sires ! 

Extend your view o'er lakes, o'er seas, o'er lands, 

Triumphant everywhere behold your bands ; 

Whole fleets are taken and whole armies yield ; 

Before your sons e'en veterans fly the field. 

Even in sight of Albion's cliffs your fleet 

Seeks the proud ruler of the waves to meet. 

My spirit gives an energy divine, 

And makes your sons all former deeds outshine." 

Now an effulgent burst of western light, 

And gilded clouds, wide spreading, struck my sight. 

Justice descends ! but as she nearer drew 

A blaze of glory hid her from my view. 

I heard a voice, though solemn, full of love, 

Pronounce she came commissioned from above. 

" Droop not, Columbia," she exclaimed, "but trust. 

In power Almighty, as your cause is just ; 

The machinations of the bad shall fail, 

The force of numbers be of no avail. 

Our God shall shield thy chosen land from harm, — • 

Our God protects thee with his outstretched arm ! '* 

At this, methought a peal of victory rung, 

And a new edifice in splendor sprung, 

Like Phoenix from its ashes, and a sound 

Of triumph and rejoicing rose around. 

Sudden I woke, all glowing with delight, 

And full of faith in all that passed by night. 

One dove to Noah in the deluge bore 

The welcome tidings of appearing shore : 

Two harbingers from heaven methought appeared, 

That sorrowful Columbia might be cheered. 

0, may it be the Almighty's gracious will, 

This welcome vision quickly to fulfil ! " 



122 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

" My dear Sir, — I am to deliver an address on Satur- 
day in lieu of Edmund, and in it I shall demonstrate, from 
important facts, the ruin which must ensue if it be at- 
tempted to liquidate our debt of 3,900,000 six per cent 
before the 1st January, 1830, and the benefits which 
will be obtained if all the surplus revenue be applied to 
public improvements. I have much to communicate. A 
meeting must be called to consider how we can extricate 
ourselves from our dilemma. Mr. Mercer would, I think, 
co-operate if he knew the objections to a canal which will 
cost $ 5,000,000, and which will never be used if accom- 
plished. 

" Bonaparte, by giving three hundred monasteries to man- 
ufacturers, and by lending money without interest for nine 
years, has elevated France more than he did by all his vain- 
glorious conquests. If every slave State had a cotton man- 
ufacture in which only free persons would be employed, a 
town would spring up, containing say fifty thousand in 
each State, — here would be in twelve States six hundred 
thousand. The mulattoes, now a dangerous class, might 
be purchased and made free after six or eight years, and 
they would become tradesmen and shopkeepers. Irishmen 
and other foreigners would become weavers, etc. ; hay, 
fruit, vegetables, meat, would become valuable, land would 
rise in price, increased exports would produce wealth. The 
more whites and free persons having a common interest, 
the more safety and the more prosperity, for free labor is 
proved to be more advantageous. If the general govern- 
ment could give back to the States surplus revenue for 
such works, what a scene of advancement would be exhib- 
ited. The great object of statesmen should be to multiply 
whites and freemen in slave States. 

" I rejoice at the vote for the ' dismal swamp ' canal. 
Every day the advocates for public improvements increase. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 123 

The middle class is always adverse to despotism and party 
spirit; they wish for peace and quiet. Money only is 
wanted to make this country most prosperous ; our Poto- 
mac canal, the Louisville canal on the Ohio., the Florida 
canal and many others, would yield 100 per cent to the 
nation. If also cotton were manufactured where it is pro- 
duced, foreign competitors would be undersold. 

" Think not I mean to bore you ; this perhaps is the last 
letter I shall ever write on public affairs. When you have 
a spare half-hour, let your zeal induce you to come from 
the Capitol to me. The crisis is favorable ; we only want 
concurrence among ourselves. I wish to unburthen myself 
to you, who have been so active and distributed letters and 
pamphlets so liberally. Bernard cannot report in time, 
and, be his report ever so favorable, it will be useless. 

" I shall soon retire to the country, and swear never more 
to harass myself with finance ; the charms of nature, too 
much overlooked hitherto, I will more dwell upon. On this 
subject I will show you some good lines. Consider my 
suggestion. 

" That I know how to improve a country is shown by the 
accompanying letter from the man Johnson applauds in his 
torn- to the Hebrides, and who went to India. 
"Yours sincerely, 

"T. Law, 
" To William W. Seaton, Esq. 
March 14, 1826." 

" Meddenpohe, March. 

" Dear Sir, — I cannot leave this part of the country, 
which is so happy under your care, without thanking you 
for myself and the party for the very great kindness and 
hospitality which you showed us, and for the pleasure of a 
higher nature for which we are indebted to you. Since we 
parted with you we have not rode a step without perceiving 
the beneficial effects which your wise as well as humane 



124 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

treatment of the peasants has produced in the country ; 
large tracts, evidently newly rescued from the desert jun- 
gles, converted into corn-fields ; houses, villages everywhere 
rising, and, above all, happy faces. I have often thought 
when riding formerly through different parts of India, that 
the poor people said in their hearts, ' There goes one of our 
tyrants, there is our oppressor, or the supporter of our op- 
pressors ' ; a different idea has lately pleased me. I have 
imagined that ryots called out to their children, ' There is 
a countryman of our father, our benefactor,' etc., etc. 

( Signed ) " Norman McLeod." 

" Monticello, Dec. 12, 1822. 

" Thomas Jefferson salutes Mr. Law with ancient and 
friendly recollections, and with a mind which does not 
easily part with early impressions. He hopes the years 
which intervened since they last saw each other have been 
to Mr. Law years of health and pleasantness, and that he 
yet has many such to come. 

"Marching abreast with Mr. Law in the calendar of 
time, it is his particular lot to suffer by two dislocated 
wrists, now stiffened by age, and rendering writing slow, 
painful, and all but impossible. He is happy to find by 
the pamphlet Mr. Law has so kindly sent him, that his 
mind is still equal to the continuation of his useful labors, 
and that his zeal for the general good is unabated. Where 
they are next to meet, in this or some other untried state 
of being, he knows not. But if we carry with us the 
affections of this world, he shall thence greet Mr. Law 
with unchanged esteem and respect. 
"To Thomas Law, Esq." 

"January 11, 1815. 

" In twenty-four hours, dearest mother, we shall hear 
whether the British are repulsed from the shores of the 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 125 

Mississippi, or in possession of New Orleans. We are 
excessively uneasy about dear Tom. He would, we know, 
be in the very front of danger in any event; and Gen- 
eral Jackson's bravery approaches to hardihood, it being 
well known that he will never desist from fighting while 
one of his men shall remain. The British are several thou- 
sand strong, superior in number, many of them well-tried 
veterans ; while our force is said to consist of a proportion 
of one thousand regulars to three thousand militia, — add 
to which, the Spanish population are entirely disaffected, 
and inclined to the invaders. The general opinion here 
entertained is, that nothing short of a miracle can save 
that devoted city. These facts are from Senators Brown 
and Boiling Kobinson, who are too well convinced of their 
truth to entertain a hope of the salvation of their country. 
Mr. Eppes and Colonel Johnson came in to tea this even- 
ing, who have put me in a little heart by assuring me, 
that if our arms be victorious, the contest decided in our 
favor when so unequally urged, a wreath of honor and 
glory will crown the survivors, and the gratitude of their 
fellow-citizens immortalize their worthy deeds. Colonel 
Johnson places the most implicit confidence in Jackson ; 
and says that his soldiers must be successful under a com- 
mander whose skill equals his bravery. Heaven grant 
success ! both for our individual happiness and the interests 
of our adopted country ; to restore my brother to the 
bosom of his family, and to induce our implacable enemy to 
consult their interest in a speedy and honorable termina- 
tion of the war, which would doubtless be accelerated by 
discomfiture in attack. What do father and yourself 
think of America now, without men or money to meet the 
immense armament prepared by the English for our 
coasts % The members of Congress are mad enough to bite 
off their own heads at their own proceedings, and still con- 



126 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

thine to act inconsistently, to disgrace their country in the 
estimation of their own and other nations." 

" February 4, 1815. 
" Let us join with you in present gratitude and joy, 
dear mother, in being permitted once more to welcome the 
anniversary of our beloved father's birthday. May this 
day find him still healthful and serene, dispensing happi- 
ness to all around him. We shall celebrate this festival 
of the heart in domestic quiet and loving content. The 
4th of February will ever be distinguished by the in- 
habitants of Washington, as giving them the first authentic 
account of the most decided victory over our enemies that 
ever was obtained by America, with the loss of five men 
killed and twelve wounded on our side. The bravery, the 
daring intrepidity displayed by the poor English fellows, 
who persisted in advancing to the very mouth of the 
cannon, though mowed down by hundreds, render even 
the triumph obtained over them painful. We are still 
uncertain and anxious for the eventual fate of Orleans ; 
but are entirely roused from the state of despondency 
which the prospect of inevitable destruction to so valu- 
able a portion of the United States had occasioned." 

"November, 1815. 
" . . . .On dit that the winter will be extremely gay, 
and decked with all the splendor of polished manners, 
brilliant talent and transcendent beauty, and the drawing- 
rooms will sparkle with scintillations of wit and fire of 
genius. Mr. Jefferson's granddaughter, Miss Randolph, 
will lead the van in accomplishments and beauty ; Miss 
Law, Miss Harrison of Philadelphia, and Miss Livingston 
will fill an elevated place in the admiration of every 
observer, while daughters and nieces of the members will 
fill up the interstices. There is every reason to expect a 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 127 

crowded and interesting winter, as it will be the first meet- 
ing of Congress since the peace. Mrs. Madison tells me 
that there will be a great many foreigners of distinction 

here There was a document received some time 

since at the State Department, in Spanish, which frustrated 
the talent of all the city to translate. Estimating highly 
Mr. Jefferson's knowledge as a linguist, it was sent to him 
by the President. He called Miss Randolph, and gave her 
the manuscript for her morning task, and long before the 
appointed hour she placed in his hands an elegant and 
correct translation, which was at once transmitted to the 
department; and being an important state paper, it has 
paved the way very handsomely for Miss Randolph. She 
will stay with Mrs. Madison, and will no doubt be very 
attractive to the various well-informed visitors at the 

palace At the first drawing-room, old Mr. Digges 

was very attentive to me, inviting me pressingly to visit 
Warburton and bring any party with me, and thence to go 
to Mount Vernon, return and stay a^ay with him, to view 
the charming scenery which he ' should delight to point 
out to the amiable daughter of his old friends.' He spent 
a couple of hours with me yesterday, — most agreeably on 
my part. This recalls our late trip to Mount Vernon, the 
occasion being, an entertainment given by Major Miller and 
the officers of the Marine Corps, to a party of our friends. 
The band accompanied us ; and after visiting the tomb, 
and seeing every object of note on the hallowed ground, 
we adjourned to the boat, where an elegant collation 
awaited us. We were invited with much politeness and 
earnestness by Judge Bushrod Washington to remain and 
partake of refreshments, but declined his hospitality. I, 
however, accepted his offer to walk over the house and see 
the various pictures of the former possessor. It is singular, 
that of all the likenesses preserved of Gen. Washington, 



128 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

the one held in greatest estimation as a striking resem- 
blance was cut from a common water pitcher made in Eng- 
land. This piece of crockery is framed, and holds a place 
of honor in the drawing-room. An elegant organ was 
open, upon the desk of which was one of Handel's master- 
pieces ; but Mrs. Washington unfortunately was indisposed, 
or we should have enjoyed the pleasure of hearing her 
play. The Judge is passionately fond of music, and 
appeared much pleased with the skill of the band, which 

performed admirably in the grove The gardener was 

a German, and whether it was my enthusiasm for his old 
master, the mysteries of horticulture which we discussed, 
or something winning in my ways, I know not ; but he 
took a fancy to me, and offered me plants of any kind I 
wished, which, however, I of course declined. While we 
were standing on the lawn with Judge Washington listening 
to the music, the old German walked up very formally 
through the assembled party, and presented me with a 
bouquet of great fragrance, with a bow and approving 
smile. The company congratulated me on my conquest ; 
and Judge Washington assured me that the favor was 
totally unprecedented and astonishing, as during his whole 
knowledge of him he had never given away a flower 
before." 

Mr. Thomas A. Digges, whose acquaintance with Mr. 
and Mrs. Gales in England had given the first impulse 
to their subsequent removal to America, was a Mary- 
land gentleman of ancient colonial family, and note- 
worthy English descent. One of his ancestors, Sir 
Dudley Digges, having unfortunately incurred the ire 
of Queen Elizabeth, he was condemned by the impla- 
cable sovereign to be first disembowelled, and then 
beheaded. He sent for Essex to use his powerful in- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 129 

fluence in interceding with the queen for a mitiga- 
tion of the sentence, so far as to reverse the order of 
punishment, and permit him to be beheaded first. But 
to the petition of Essex the gentle virgin answered, 
" Why, that is the very beauty of it ! " During our 
Eevolutionary struggle Mr. Digges visited England, 
where he remained during many years, being a wel- 
come guest in the most distinguished circles of society, 
and maintaining intimate relations especially with the 
Whigs or Liberals, whose leader, the Prince of Wales, 
favored the rebels or American party, as opposed to 
the Tories, who sided with King George. Mr. Digges 
was a bachelor, a well-bred man, and charming com- 
panion, his conversation replete with thrilling memo- 
ries of the French Eevolution, the horrors of which 
he had witnessed, and sparkling with anecdotes of 
Eox, Sheridan, and other celebrities of the brilliant 
and famous Carlton House coterie. He was a man of 
many eccentricities of habit, but a generous heart 
withal, capable of kind deeds. Major L'Enfant, the 
engineer brought from France by Count Eochambeau, 
— who accompanied Lafayette to aid the Colonies, — 
was subsequently employed under General Washington 
to lay out the Federal City, in the growth of which the 
beauty and magnificence of his designs are daily devel- 
oped. Feeling aggrieved at some unjust treatment 
from the government, he used to appear invariably at 
the Capitol each day, with a baton under his arm, to 
prosecute his claim before Congress ; but being disap- 
pointed in his hopes, he retired to Warburton Manor, 
where for ten years previous to his death he enjoyed, 
from the generosity of Mr. Digges, a comfortable home. 



130 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

The hospitalities of this charming seat, long years ago 
passed away, were proverbial ; and it was on the occa- 
sion of a visit to Mr. Digges, their former friendship be- 
ing warmly renewed, that Mrs. Gales wrote the follow- 
ing impromptu, discovered by her host on her dressing- 
table the morning of her departure from the manor : — 

" 0, what a goodly scene mine eyes embrace ! 
Mingling with Flora's tincts of varied dye, 
Painted on Nature's sweet and pleasant face, 
Woods, vales, and streams in sweet confusion lie. 

"Let poets boast of Arno's ' shelvy side,' 
And sing the beauties of the classic Po, 
Give me Potomac's grand, majestic tide, 
Sparkling beneath the sun's effulgent glow ! 

" Yet one regret must mingle with the pride 

Which erst enkindled at thy ' fair mild ' name ; 
Here Britain's navy dared uncfieclced to ride, 
And history will the monstrous fact proclaim. 

" Ah ! could the sainted Washington have seen 
The vandal hordes, with desolating rage, 
Pour dire destruction o'er the once-loved scene, 
And more than Gothic warfare rudely wage, 

" E'en from those scenes of glory, where on high 
He sits enthroned amidst celestial choirs, 
E'en there he would have breathed a mournful sigh 
As rose the devastating monsters' fires. 

" But let not one foul stain eclipse the rays 
Diverging from a thousand gallant deeds; 
All else has been a glorious, splendid blaze, 
Worthy the poet's song, the historian's meed. 

" Let Plattsburg, Chippewa, and Orleans tell, 

There the proud triumph of our arms were shown ; 
While Erie, Champlain, and Ontario swell 

The note which Fame through every land hath blown ! 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 131 

" Farewell, Potomac ! o'er thy waters wide 
I take a lingering but delightful view ; 
Whilst the gay vessel dances on the tide, 
I bid thee, "Warburton, a last adieu. 

" Perhaps no more to see my early friend, — 
No more his hospitable smile to meet, 
"Where true politeness and kind friendship blend, 
The ever-welcome, grateful guest to greet. 

" Winifred Gales." 

The "one foul stain" to which the verses allude 
was, doubtless, the desertion of his post by the young 
officer in command, Fort Warburton being captured by 
the British in consequence of his running away. The 
fort was on the domain of Mr. Digges, the present Fort 
Washington being erected on its site. 

"November, 1815. 

" . . . . About fifty members have arrived and marked 
their seats in the new building on Capitol Hill, erected for 
their temporary accommodation by old Mr Law, Carroll, 
and others, who wished to enhance the value of their prop- 
erty. You will perceive by the papers that General Jack- 
son's visit here has excited a great commotion. Dinners, 
plays, balls, throughout the District. I wish much that 
some little aerial machine, uniting expedition and safety, 
could be invented, that you could take wing and remain a 
day, or an hour even, with us, and participate in the pleas- 
ure which every true lover of their country must feel in 
conversing with so distinguished a warrior as Jackson. 
Immediately on Mrs. Jackson's arrival a dilemma was 
presented, and a grand debate ensued as to whether the 
ladies would visit her Colonel Reid and Dr. Good- 
let, the friends of years of General Jackson, having settled 
the question of propriety satisfactorily, all doubts were laid 
aside I have seen a good deal of General Jackson 



132 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

and his wife, who both received me with great attention 
and civility. He is not striking in appearance ; his fea- 
tures are hard-favored (as our Carolinians say), his com- 
plexion sallow, and his person small. Mrs. Jackson is a 
totally uninformed woman in mind and manners, but 

extremely civil, in her way I suppose there have 

never been in the city so many plain women, in every sense 
of the word, as are now here among the families of official 
personages. I have always heard it asserted without con- 
tradiction, that nothing was easier than to learn to be a 
fine lady ; but I begin to think differently, being morally 
certain that many among the new-comers will never achieve 
that distinction. Among the most amiable and refined of 
my acquaintances is Mrs. Crawford, of whom, being intro- 
duced to me by my intimate friends Mrs. Meigs and Mrs. 
Forsyth, who are also her old friends, I shall probably see a 
good deal. She has received by Mr. Crawford, from Paris, 
the most elegant furniture ; but she has no disposition for 
gayety, and thinks her husband's appointment as Secre- 
tary of War the most unfortunate circumstance, inasmuch 
as it will require her to forsake, in a good degree, those 
domestic habits which have heretofore constituted her sole 

happiness You may be sure, however, dear mother, 

that these homespun propensities of our great folk cannot 
diminish my respect for their intrinsic merit and many 
excellent qualities 

"May, 1816. 

" This day, for the first time this year, we recognize 
spring. 

1 Burst are the chains which, lately bound, 
And, lo ! the emancipated ground 

Her independence feels. 
The liberated rivers flow, 
And conscious forests laugh to know 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 133 

Their species are set free 
From tyrant Winter : — and again 
Bounds the white blood through every vein 

Of every joyous tree.' 

Never here was this genial season so long retarded ; and 
even now we present the phenomenon of eating straw- 
berries and cream by a bright fire We have been 

on a jaimt to Annapolis, to visit the * Seventy-four,' about 
to carry Mr. Pinckney on his mission. It is one of the 
oldest towns in the Union, and though exhibiting every 
symptom of decay, is the most lovely spot you can con- 
ceive. On our way we met Judge Duvall, who pressed us 
to dine at his house, about fifteen miles from Washington, 
on the roadside, where we spent a few hours most delight- 
fully in the society of this venerable, patriarchal man and 
hospitable, loquacious, kind old lady, who displayed on her 
table every luxury in and out of season. The President and 
family had stayed a day and night just before, being much 
gratified in their visit. The evening we reached Annapolis 
there was a great ball in honor of the President, and half 
an hour after our arrival we received invitations. Every 
one was there. Among other families in Annapolis, we 
were glad to meet our friends Mrs. Eush, Mrs. Lowndes, 
General Scott, Rogers, Porter, etc., who all fraternized 
very cordially. Mrs. Madison was very polite, expressing 
herself surprised and delighted at our arrival, introdu- 
cing me very handsomely to Mrs. Pinckney, — her husband 
I knew very well before, — Governor and Mrs. Ridgely, 
of Maryland, and other notabilities, which, in a strange 
land, was very kind and acceptable. Commodore Chauncy 
and wife treated us with great respect and attention, and 
Captain Creighton, the commander, was an old acquaintance, 
to see whom, indeed, was one inducement of our trip. The 
Seventy-four was the ostensible cause of the jaunt, but the 



134 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

beautiful country and scenery had by far the greater por- 
tion of our time. A description of the interior of such a 
magnificent man-of-war transcends my power; suffice it 
that the clock-work regularity, the rigid discipline reigning 
throughout, and the delicate neatness pervading every nook 
of the vast monarch of the seas, received my full meed of 
admiration. The little President was as gay as a lark, and 
jested very humorously on the incidents of their journey ; 
the cares of state thrown off his shoulders completely met- 
amorphosed him, and relaxed his frigidity amazingly 

I called to see your old friend, Mr. Law, yesterday, and 
found him employed in the most delightful and edifying 
occupation, — whistling variations to an operatic air to his 
son and heir, aged five weeks ! 

" I enjoyed a treat last week, my dear sister, which, great 
as it was, I would have willingly transferred to you, from 
the consideration that you were enabled both by nature 
and education to enjoy it more exquisitely than I could 
without your advantages, — and this was a view of some 
of the finest paintings ever in America. Mr. Calvert of 
Bladensburg went to Antwerp, where he married a Miss 
Steers, whose father, a descendant of Reubens, and an 
enthusiastic devotee of art, became possessed of several 
masterpieces to the great Fleming, to which were added 
Titians, Vanderlyns, and other undoubted originals, — in all 
about forty specimens of the old masters. During Bona- 
parte's absolute sway in France, and his lawless thirst for 
the acquisition of paintings with which to adorn the Lou- 
vre, he instituted a search for these same gems, well known 
in the art world, which Mr. Steers apprehending, he se- 
creted and subsequently brought his treasures to his daugh- 
ter in America, for safe keeping. The Bourbons being now 
reinstated, without, as Mr. Steers thinks, any danger of 
a reverse of fortune, he has reclaimed the paintings ; and 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 135 

Mr. Calvert, inasmuch as such an opportunity might never 
again occur to the citizens of Washington, invited all con- 
noisseurs and amateurs to come for five days and gratify 
their taste and curiosity. Peale from Philadelphia, King 
and Wood from Baltimore, were transported with admira- 
tion. The Grecian Daughter, as it is called, Euphrasia, 
by K^ubens, excited the most lively emotions of admira- 
tion ; but c The unbelieving Priest,' by Titian, was decided 
by them to be incomparably the most splendid effort of 
genius in that superb collection. Although convinced that 
my emotions of delight were inferior to those which ani- 
mated the countenances of many connoisseurs present, I 
have felt ever since as if I had gained an idea, as if an- 
other ray of intellect had been given me by which to esti- 
mate the productions of other artists, by comparing them 
with these imprinted on my memory." 

"March, 1818. 
" .... I have mentioned the very agreeable accession 
to our neighborhood in the Calhouns. You could not fail 
to love and appreciate, as I do, her charming qualities ; a 
devoted mother, tender wife, industrious, cheerful, intel- 
ligent, with the most perfectly equable temper. Mr. Cal- 
houn is a profound statesman and elegant scholar, you 
know by public report ; but his manners in a private circle 
are endearing, as well as captivating ; and it is as much 
impossible not to love him at home as it would be to 
refuse your admiration of his oratorical powers in the Hall 
of Eepresentatives. Since his absence in Carolina his wife 
has spent much time with me, coming down at nine in the 
morning and stopping till ten at night, and we generally 

go to church together on Sunday I returned last 

week the visit of Mrs. W., accompanied by Mrs. Calhoun, 
thinking it would gratify our old friend to give her the 
benefit of any acquaintance who might be thought by the 



136 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

mass of the people to confer honor by paying the first 
visit. But I do not fancy being pressed into such service, 
as has been recently the case with Mrs. M., whose husband 
having no acquaintance with whom he could take the 
liberty except myself, earnestly requested the favor of my 
introducing his wife to the President's family, foreign min- 
isters, secretaries, etc. Decline I could not ; the respecta- 
bility of the lady, as the wife of a member of Congress, being 
a sufficient passport into any society here. They were grati- 
fied in having the visits returned, and on being invited con- 
sequently to dine with Monsieur de Neuville, and to meet 
us and a few other acquaintances at Mr. Calhoun's. So 
far, so well ; but it is an office that neither William nor I 
are fond of, as it seems almost a demand for civility to our 
acquaintances, in addition to that voluntarily bestowed on 

ourselves It is said that the dinner-parties of Mrs. 

Monroe will be very select. Mrs. Hay, daughter of Mrs. 
Monroe, returns the visits paid to her mother, making 
assurances, in the most pointedly polite manner, that Mrs. 
Monroe will be happy to see her friends morning or 
evening, but that her health is totally inadequate to visit- 
ing at present ! Mrs. Hay is understood to be her proxy, 
and there this much-agitated and important question 
ends ; and as there is no distinction made, but all treated 
alike, I suppose it will eventually go down, though this alter- 
ation in the old regime was bitter to the palates of all our 
citizens, especially so to foreign ministers and strangers." 

Previous to the accession of Mr. Monroe to the 
Presidency, the lady of the executive mansion had fol- 
lowed the rules of etiquette in regard to social visiting 
usually accepted in the conventional world. Mrs. 
Madison, with her frank, cordial, unassuming manner, 
had shown no distinction in individual or political 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 137 

position, when reciprocating the respect and attention 
so universally accorded to her personally. But with the 
growth of the city it became fitting to draw the line 
of demarcation more stringently; and the question as 
to the propriety of indiscriminate visiting on the part 
of the ladies of the President's family, or indeed of 
the head of his house returning any visits whatsoever, 
was hotly debated ; this social revolution creating no 
little heart-burning among those left in the shade 
of non-recognition. This apparently trivial subject 
assumed such important shape, as subsequently to 
involve diplomatic and state correspondence, being 
finally adjusted by John Quincy Adams, who drew up 
the formula which has since regulated social etiquette 
between Washington officials. 

Mrs. Seaton writing on this subject at a later period, 
says : " I have a letter from J. Q. Adams to the 
President of the United States on the question of 
etiquette. Do not mention it, but I will forward it to 
you as a curious document, which will' display the 
character of the man who may be our future President, 
in stronger light than all the public papers he has 
written, and proves him to be more of a bookworm and 
abstracted student than a man of the world." 

The following extracts from this voluminous exposi- 
tion of etiquette, are characteristic of the earnestness 
and clearness with which Mr. Adams treated even the 
apparently trivial details of this social question. 
" To the President of the United States. 

"Washington, December 25, 1819. 

"Sir : The meeting held yesterday having terminated with- 
out any arrangement relative to the subject upon which it 



138 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

had, at your desire, been convened, to avoid being mis- 
understood in the course of conduct which I have hitherto 
pursued, and to manifest my wish to pursue in the future 
any other which you will please to direct, I have thought 
it necessary to submit the following observations to your 
candor and indulgence. 

" It has, I understand from you, been made a subject of 
complaint to you, as a neglect of duty on the part of the 
Secretary of State, that he omits paying at every session 
of Congress a first visit of form to every member of the 
Senate ; and that his wife is equally negligent of her sup- 
posed duty, in omitting similar attention to the ladies of 
every member of either house, who visit the city during 

the session I must premise, that having been five 

years a member of the Senate, and having during four of 
the five sessions been accompanied at the seat of govern- 
ment by my wife, I have never received a first visit from 
any one of the heads of department, nor did Mrs. Adams 

ever receive a first visit from . any of their ladies 

Visiting of form was considered as not forming a part 
either of official right, or official duty. 

" I never heard a suggestion that it was due in courtesy, 
from a head of department, to pay a first visit to senators, 
or from his wife to visit the wife of any member of Con- 
gress Entertaining the profoundest respect for the 

senate as a body, and a high regard for every individual 
member of it, I am yet not aware of any usage which 
required formal visits from me, as a member of the admin- 
istration, to them as senators. The Senate of the United 
States, independent of its importance and dignity, is of all 
the associations of men upon earth, that to which I am 
bound by the most sacred and indissoluble ties of gratitude. 
.... Unworthy, indeed, should I be of such confidence, 
if I had a heart insensible to those obligations. Base 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 139 

indeed should I feel myself, if inflated by the dignity of 
the stations to which their frequently repeated kindness 
has contributed to raise me, I were capable of with- 
holding from them collectively or individually, one particle 

of the reverence and honor due from me When I 

learnt that there was such an expectation entertained by the 
senators in general, I quickly learnt from other quarters, 
that, if complied with, it would give great offence to the 
members of the House of Representatives unless extended 
also to them. These visits of ceremony would not only be 
a very useless waste of time, but incompatible with the 
discharge of the real and important duties of the depart- 
ments Neither did the introduction of a system of 

formality appear to me congenial to the Republican sim- 
plicity of our institutions In paying the first visit 

to ladies coming to this place as strangers, Mrs. Adams 
could draw no discrimination; to visit all would be im- 
possible ; to visit only the ladies of members of Congress 
would be a distinction offensive to many other ladies of 
respectability ; it would have applied even to the married 

daughter of the President Above all, we wish it 

understood, that, while we are happy to receive any respec- 
table stranger who pleases to call upon us, we have no 

claim or pretension to claim it of any one I am 

entirely disposed to conform to any other course which you 
may have the goodness to advise. 

" With perfect respect, I remain, sir, 

" Your very obedient servant, 

"J. Q. Adams." 

"March, 1818. 

" . . . . Old Mr. Digges lives in the city at present, and 

brought me a letter yesterday addressed to him by Thomas 

Jefferson, which bears the imprint of a mind unimpaired 

by continual intellectual exertion, and characterized by a 



140 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

vivacity astonishing at the age of seventy years. Mr. 
Digges is perfectly at home here, one day dining enfamiUe 
with the President, spending the next with Mr. Bagot, and 
frequently alternating between these great folk with us, 
equally easy and agreeable to all. Mr. Bagot told me that 
Mr. Digges knew circumstances and people in his (Bagot's) 
neighborhood better than himself, and there is no part of 
England, nor few prominent persons there, with whom he 
is not perfectly acquainted. This reminds me of the un- 
precedented entertainment that has just taken place in 
the city, — a ball given to a British Minister by American 
citizens. A more festive or brilliant assembly I never at- 
tended. The occasion was honored by all the officials and 
most of the strangers of distinction in town. Mr. Bagot 
acted, as he has done on every occasion since his residence 
here, the perfect gentleman, and she ' looked an empress.' 
They were both very much excited, and expressed gratitude 
in unbounded and apparently sincere terms. They will 
carry with them the admiration and good wishes of all 
who knew them here, as their private character is as much 
esteemed as their public deportment. William looked un- 
commonly handsome, and as it was a subject of general 
remark, you will not accuse me of wifely partiality, when 
I say that, as he waltzed the Spanish dance with Mrs. J. 
Q. Adams, he was the most elegant man in the assembly, 
not excepting the guest of the evening." 

The Right Honorable Sir Charles Bagot, G. C. B., 
and Privy Councillor, was a son of Lord Bagot, of Ba- 
got's Bromley, an ancient family connected with such 
historic houses as those of Suffolk and Fulke-Greville, 
while his mother was a daughter of Lord Bolingbroke. 
Sir Charles rose rapidly in the diplomatic service, a 
career for which his personal gifts especially fitted 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 141 

him ; one of his first missions being that of Washing- 
ton, where he was during some years the very popular 
British Envoy, winning golden opinions by his hand- 
some presence and engaging manners. He was ably 
supported in these diplomatic requirements by Lady 
Bagot, who was the Honorable Miss Wellesley, a daugh- 
ter of Lord Maryborough, late Earl of Mornington, the 
eldest brother of the Duke of Wellington. Erom her 
father she inherited her un&ommon beauty, he being 
notably one of the handsomest men of his day, as was also 
his brother, the late Lord Cowley, whose exquisite por- 
trait by Lawrence was one of the gems of the Duke of 
Wellington's famous gallery. The amiability and good 
breeding by which Mrs. Bagot attracted the regards of 
the citizens were the more admirable, as it was whispered 
that she found society in the New World a great bore, 
and deplored " the necessity of sticking pins in herself 
to keep awake at the stupid balls." Sir Charles Bagot 
subsequently succeeded Lord Sydenham in the distin- 
guished post of Governor-General of Canada, where he 
died in 1843. His daughter married the present Mar- 
quis of Anglesey, son of the famous»companion-in-arms 
of Wellington, and one of the heroes of Waterloo. 

"May, 1819. 
"... . We heard to-day in Blagden's church a most 
confused declamatory discourse, without method or matter, 
from Mr. Breckenridge, who is the Presbyterian Atlas of 
the District. The church is very commodious, and the 
congregation highly respectable and intelligent ; but really 
the illiterate and weak delivery of the speaker renders it 
astonishing that so many well-informed people should 
have selected a pastor so little likely to benefit his flock. 









142 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

In Raleigh, where a good rational preacher can be heard 
every Sabbath, it would be deemed strange to give en- 
couragement to any man, however amiable in private life, 
who had no single requisite for an orator, which is the 
case of the gentleman I mention 

" General Jackson has attended several private balls 
since the decision of Congress, and has received universal 
homage from male and female, a circle constantly around 
him waiting for an introduction, and ambitious of ex- 
changing a few words with the greatest of American gen- 
erals. Such is the prevailing sentiment among the inhab- 
itants and congregated strangers here 

"Our dear father will hardly think it credible that a 
rational, intelligent human being in full possession of his 
mental faculties, should madly rush into eternity. You 
will have seen by the Intelligencer that General Mason 
has fallen a victim to his own and antagonist's vindictive 
passions ; and the feelings of disgust and horror at the 
mode adopted by the duellists has occasioned as much sen- 
sation here as the murder of poor Conway did in Raleigh. 
It was the mildest of three propositions which were made 
to rid each other of existence ; the first, being to sit on a 
barrel of gunpowder together ; the second, to hold hands 
and jump from the top of the Capitol; and the third 
scarcely less impious, to shoot at each other within ten 
paces with three musket-balls ! The antagonists were first 
cousins. McCarty's brother is the husband of Mason's 
sister. The deceased has cast a stain upon his memory, 
and involved a very large and honorable family in his dis- 
grace, which no previous act of his life had allowed them 
to anticipate. He was universally beloved. Unfortunately 
for Mason, he selected some young officers in Jackson's 
suite as counsellors and seconds. Had he advised with 
any of his old friends in Congress, or here, the catastro- 
phe might have been averted 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 143 

" There has been more gayety than I have ever known 
here in the summer, caused by the farewell dinners, the 
private and public balls, given to Monsieur and Madame 
de Neuville, who have by their unaffected kindness to 
their equals and their munificence to the poor won upon 
the popular esteem and gratitude. They do not possess 
the external advantages of address and person for which 
Mr. and Mrs. Bagot were admired, and we shall never again, 
I imagine, witness so much style and splendor as the enter- 
tainments of the British Envoy presented. The public ball 
was a great success, Monsieur de Neuville making a very 
impressive little speech of thanks to the citizens. William, 
with five other married men, officiated as master of cere- 
monies, and I was pleased that he had an opportunity of tes- 
tifying respect for the worthy old couple, as we have spent 
many agreeable hours in their hospitable house. They are 
uncertain if their master will send them here again, but 
profess a desire to represent their nation at this republican 
capital rather than at any of the splendid courts of Europe, 
not excepting St. Petersburg, considered by far the most 
magnificent in the world. They came, the morning they 
started, to see us, bringing remembrances for the children. 
The French, more than any other people, study these 
graceful attentions, slight in themselves, but the sure ave- 
nue to a mother's heart " 

The " Intelligencer," as an independent and national 
expositor, and indeed it may be said controller of pub- 
lic sentiment, was now a power in the land, while Mr. 
Seaton's commanding personal qualities and rare social 
gifts could not fail to establish a peculiar influence 
over his fellow-citizens. These slight sketches of a 
few of the prominent friends and events distinguishing 
Mr. Seaton's familiar circle indicate the marked con- 






144 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

sideration enjoyed by him, even at his early age, among 
the good and great of our golden era, and which, as 
time went on, matured into a reverential regard and 
appreciation of his character and attainments by the 
community. Under the public law, the citizens of 
Washington are privileged to bestow but meagre testi- 
monials of respect and popularity, the municipal office 
being the highest in their power to confer on those 
who win their favor; and the first step in the pro- 
gressive evidence of their esteem Mr. Seaton was at 
last persuaded to accept, as we see by Mrs. Seaton's 
mention. 

" December, 1819. 
" You will perceive by the paper that William's blushing 
honors crowd thick upon him, which, however, he bears 
with singular meekness, not having given himself a single 
air since his exaltation as alderman, for which office he has 
become increasingly eligible by his embonpoint. There is 
greater commotion existing in the city than was ever known 
before about the election of Lord Mayor, the contest lying 
between Colonel Orr, Roger Weightman, Richard Lee, and 
General Van Ness The drawing-room of the Presi- 
dent was opened last night to a ' beggarly row of empty 
chairs.' Only five females attended, three of whom were 
foreigners. Mrs. Adams, the previous week, invited a large 
party, which we attended, at which there were not more 
than three ladies. In a familiar, pleasing manner, the 
sprightly hostess made known to each of her visitors that 
every Tuesday evening during the winter, when they had 
nothing better to do with themselves, it would give her 
great pleasure to receive them. The evening arrived, and 
with it two other guests besides her -sisters ! Don't you 
think we must be reforming % Some wise distinctions in 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 145 

etiquette were, however, probably the cause of ine defalca- 
tion There is to be a splendid party at Madame de Neu- 
ville's, who enlists all varieties of character under her 
banner. Since her return she has resigned herself to be 
poorly lodged in the attic, so as to afford more room below 
for constant hospitalities. Madame Van Greuhm, formerly 
governess to Governor Middleton's daughters, resides at 
Kalorama, and intends entertaining all citizens who have 
sufficient leisure to honor her invitations. The diplomatic 
corps are very much chagrined at the descent made by the 
Prussian Minister, considering it a degradation ; but inas- 
much as he is a sensible, amiable man, and a noble, they 
magnanimously agree to forgive him. At the drawing- 
room, Madame de Neuville was exquisitely dressed in a 
white satin under-slip, with silver lace tunic, head-dress of 
superb pearls and lace." 

"February, 1820. 

" Congress has been occupied during three weeks in the 
discussion of the Missouri bill, — the right to prohibit the 
admission of slaves in the new State of Missouri ; or rather 
the question is, Shall Missouri be a State, or not 1 for 
it is well understood that she does not wish to enter the 
confederation, except on an equal footing with other States 
which have been permitted to form their own constitutions 
without interference from Congress. The excitement dur- 
ing this protracted debate has been intense. The galleries 
are now crowded with colored persons, almost to the exclu- 
sion of whites. They hear all, but understand much less 
than half They know it to be a question of servitude or 
freedom, and imagine that the result will immediately affect 
their condition ; so, as one side or other of the question 
preponderates, they rejoice or are depressed. When the 
slaves of the Southerners, now here, return home with 
mutilated and exaggerated accounts of what they have 
7 j " 



146 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

heard, I fear that many deluded creatures will fall sacri- 
fices to their misapprehension of the question. Mr. Meade, 
the Colonization Society, have all grasped at that which 
was too mighty for individual hands, and have, with good 
intentions, raised a flame which their united efforts at 
counteraction will scarcely quench. If ever the abolition 
of slavery be attempted, it must be by the government of 
the United States ; it cannot, it ought not to be touched 
without awful consideration. Already does Maryland feel 
the effects of this unfortunate discussion. The conse- 
quences of this ill-judged indulgence in public curiosity can 
hardly be calculated. Had Congress sat with closed doors, 
these evils would have been avoided. There is no guessing 
when the question will be decided, as many members have 
long speeches prepared for the benefit of an admiring world. 
The Senators and members generally are so excited, that 
unless their angry passions are allowed to effervesce in 
speaking, the most terrible consequences are apprehended 
even by experienced statesmen. This subject being made 
subservient to political views, and having in perspective 
the Presidential election, is bandied from one to the other 
speaker alternately. Eufus King enkindled a flame in the 
Senate by a factious speech which required the combined 
efforts of all his contemporaries to moderate. I prefer Mr. 
King's oratory to any I have heard, his manner so grave 
and dignified, chaste language, disdaining flowers, orna- 
mental tropes or figures, or the studied grace of gesture. 
In this opinion I am singular, perhaps unique, as the palm 
is unanimously awarded to Pinckney. Indeed, you may 
have seen comparisons made between this celebrated mod- 
ern and the ancients, Demosthenes and Cicero, in which 
the latter are evidently in the background of the picture. 
There have been not less than a hundred ladies on the floor 
of the Senate every day on which it was anticipated that 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 147 

Mr. Pinckney would speak, encompassing the Senators, 
and absolutely excluding Representatives, foreign Minis- 
ters, etc. Governor Tompkins, a very gallant man, had 
invited a party of ladies whom he met at Senator Brown's, 
to take seats on the floor of the Senate, having, as Presi- 
dent of the Senate, unlimited power, and thinking proper 
to use it, contrary to all former precedent. I was one of 
the select, and gladly availed myself of the invitation, with 
my good friend Mrs. Lowndes, of South Carolina, and half 
a dozen others. The company in the gallery seeing a few 
ladies very comfortably seated on the sofas, with warm 
foot-stools and other luxuries, did as they had a right to 
do, — deserted the gallery ; and every one, old and young, 
flocked into the Senate. 'T was then that our Vice-Presi- 
dent began to look alarmed, and did not attend strictly to 
the member addressing the chair. The Senators (some of 
them) frowned indignantly, and were heard to mutter audi- 
bly, ' Too many women here for business to be transacted 
properly ! ' Governor Tompkins found it necessary the 
next morning to affix a note to the door, excluding all 
ladies not introduced by one of the Senators. Having so 
many polite friends among them, I shall probably attend 

the whole debate 

" On Sunday last I went to the Capitol, and listened with 
great interest to one of the purest strains of eloquence that 
ever issued from the pulpit in my hearing, — a young man 
named Everett, an Unitarian preacher from Boston, of rare 
talents and profound learning, professor of Greek and He- 
brew at Cambridge. He has just returned from Europe, 
where he has been perfecting himself in languages, particu- 
larly Oriental knowledge. He left Constantinople and 
returned home at the same time as Mr. Lowndes. It is 
supposed that he will accept the post of chaplain to Con- 
gress next year. Jonathan Mason promises to procure for 



148 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

me Everett's sermon, which I wish dear father to read, 
especially that portion drawing an advantageous compari- 
son between America and every other country, ancient and 
modern. . . . 

" Maria Monroe is to be married on Tuesday to her 
cousin, young Gouverneur. The following day a brilliant 
drawing-room will be held, and the immense ball-room 
opened. The marriage to be entirely private." 

"March 28, 1820. 

" . . . . The New York style was adopted at Maria 
Monroe's wedding. Only the attendants, the relations, and 
a few old friends of the bride and groom witnessed the cer- 
emony, and the bridesmaids were told that their company 
and services would be dispensed with until the following 
Tuesday, when the bride would receive visitors. Accord- 
ingly all who visit at the President's paid their respects to 
Mrs. Gouverneur, who presided in her mother's place on 
this evening, while Mrs. Monroe mingled with the other 
citizens. Every visitor was led to the bride and intro- 
duced in all form. But the bridal festivities have received 
a check which will prevent any further attentions to the 
President's family, in the murder of Decatur ! The first 
ball, and which we attended, consequent on the wedding, 
was given by the Decaturs ! Invitations were out from Van 
Ness, Commodore Porter, etc., all of which were remanded 
on so fatal a catastrophe to the man identified with the 
glorious success of his country in the late war. In the 
event of another war, he would have been the first one to 
whom his country would have turned for a repetition of 
services so hazardous and valuable. Commodore Barron 
lies ill, but not dangerously wounded. The explanation 
which took place after the rencontre, and before they were 
removed from the ground, would have prevented it. They 
repeated to each other that they harbored no enmity, and 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 149 

hoped to meet, better friends, in another world. Commo- 
dore Decatur suffered excruciating agony for several hours 
after arriving at his home, and his chief surgeon, Dr. Lov- 
ell, told me that he said only : ' If it were in the cause of 
my country it would be nothing.' He has left the whole 
of his property, which is very large, to his wife, with the 
exception of legacies to his two nieces, the Misses Mc- 
Knight, who reside with him. So many friends were privy 
to this intended duel, that it appears most extraordinary 
it should not have reached the ears of the President, who 
alone could have averted it. Mr. Wirt, Bomford, Eogers, 
Porter, Bainbridge, General Harper, his father-in-law, Mr. 
Wheeler, all, all kept the secret, though they did every- 
thing else to prevent it. Mrs. Decatur never saw her hus- 
band, not even after death. She still lies in a lethargic 
stupor, her plrysicians fearing apoplexy, and unable to bleed 
her. No child, no relative except her father, an old man, 
what must be her situation when her sense of feeling shall 
return with all its poignancy. Commodore Barron has a 
wife and eleven children. If he recover, he will be an 
object of execration to his enemies, and scarcely of pity to 
his friends. .... We attended, a few days since, a grand 
mass for the repose of the soul of the Due de JBerri, a most 
imposing ceremony, and interesting from the sympathy 
universally excited by the sad fate of so amiable a prince. 
.... William has been applied to by all his own friends 
and very many of the citizens, to know if he will consent 
to serve as mayor ; but he has uniformly declined the 
proposition, nattering as he feels it to be, viewing it as both 
unneighborly and unfriendly to oppose the known wishes 

of , who has always had this elective honor at heart, 

and who is conscious that he could not be elected if Wil- 
liam were to allow his own name to be mentioned for the 
dignity. There are only eight candidates ! 



150 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

" You see that John Randolph did not have much en- 
couragement for his crazy proposition. It is the universal 
opinion that he is deranged, and he affords, certainly, con- 
firmation of this idea every day of his life by his outre 
conduct. He is chock-full of fight ever since the late duel, 
and endeavors to provoke a quarrel with everybody he 
meets, makes speeches in favor of this mode of settling 
disputes, and seems entirely to have forgotten the excuse 
he made to Boiling Robinson ! " 

The celebrated, eccentric John Randolph, as is well 
known, vehemently opposed the Missouri Compromise, 
not so much probably from any principle involved in 
that important question, as from his innate aversion 
to be led by the arguments of a majority, and from 
his Ishmaelitish nature, which delighted in provoking 
every man's hand against his t>wn, — an inborn aris* 
tocrat, and yet from mere perversity of temper uphold- 
ing every levelling project. It was during these acri- 
monious compromise debates that he stigmatized the 
Northerners who voted for that pacificatory measure 
as "doughfaces," which cognomen was long a slogan 
in party warfare ; and it was on this occasion also 
that he allowed his peevish antagonism to overpower 
Iris gallantry. The floor and gallery of the House 
were crowded by eager listeners among the fair sex, 
when Randolph rose, and all looks fastened on his 
weird figure, as, pointing that long skeleton index- 
finger toward the ladies, and in his peculiar, shrill, 
squeaking voice, he said : " Mr. Speaker, what pray are 
all these women doing here, so out of place in this 
arena ? Sir, they had much better be at home attend- 
ing to their knitting ! " The reproof, though unde- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH, 151 

served, was accepted, and for a few days following the 
congressional gladiators received no inspiration from 
bright eyes. 

Eandolph's hostility to Clay — whose acceptance of 
the position of Secretary of State in the Adams cabi- 
net had induced the cry of " bargain and corruption," 
and greatly impaired the popularity of the great Com- 
moner — culminating in his insulting denunciation 
of Adams's election as a "coalition of Puritan and 
black-leg," and for which characteristic epigram Clay 
demanded satisfaction on the field of honor, had 
existed from their first meeting in public life. Of that 
famous duel between the fiery Virginian and the peer- 
less Kentuckian Mr. Seaton was known to have an in- 
side history ; but, unfortunately, the authentic version 
of this, as of so many of the great events, and the in- 
exhaustible anecdotes of the compeers of Mr. Seaton's 
exceptional career, with which his memory teemed, 
are without written record, and lost to history. Es- 
pecially of Eandolph's inner life, the true man under- 
lying that crust of eccentricity and infirm temper, 
Mr. Seaton seemed to hold the key, his relations with 
him being of a nature that brought him very near the 
singular and gifted man. During several years Mr. 
Seaton and Mr. Gales were exclusively their own re- 
porters in the Senate and House *of Eepresentatives, 
where they respectively had appropriated to them a 
seat at the side of the Vice-President and the Speaker. 
This privilege, with its concomitant of the daily ex- 
change of the snuff-box and friendly sentiment with 
the members, giving the brother-editors a rare insight 
into the secret springs of debate, the actual force and 



152 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

individuality of the giants of that day. Mr. Ean- 
dolph sat near Mr. Seaton, and on one occasion when 
Mr. Clay, speaking in his not nnusual personal and 
self-sufficient strain, said, among other things, that 
" his parents had left him nothing but indigence and 
ignorance" Randolph, turning to Mr. Seaton, said, in a 
stage whisper to be heard by the House : " The gentle- 
man might continue the alliteration, and add insolence" 
It was said that Clay was somewhat afraid of his an- 
tagonist's caustic wit, and on this occasion at least it 
was not resented by the " Eupert of debate." 

A member of Mr. Seaton's family, writing from Vir- 
ginia early in 1833, says : " Mr. Eandolph has been 
staying with us, but so feeble that he could not leave 
his room. He talks as much and as wonderfully Us 
usual; and is, if possible, more witty and eccentric 
than ever. Cousin J. remarked to him that he was 
surprised to see him persist in the exploded fashion 
of wearing round-toed shoes. ' 0,' replied Mr. Ean- 
dolph, ' I am like Eitchie, — I neither track one way 
nor the other.' He spoke with great regard of Gales 
and Seaton, and their talent, and wishes to be kindly 
remembered." 

" February, 1821. 
" . . . . The city is unusually gay, and crowded with 
agreeable and distinguished visitors. Mr. Canning's initia- 
tory ball seemed to rouse the emulation of his neighbors, 
and we have had a succession of fetes. The British 
Minister's rout was unique. The English are half a 
century before us in style. Handsome pictures, books, 
and all sorts of ' elegant litter ' distinguish his rooms, 
the mansion being decorated with peculiar taste and pro- 
priety. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 153 

"Mr. Canning is himself a most unpretending man in 
appearance and manners ; modesty appears to be his 
peculiar characteristic, which for a foreign minister is no 

negative praise The birthnight ball was brilliant. 

The contrast between the plain attire of President Monroe 
and Mr. Adams, and the splendid uniforms of the diplomatic 
corps, was very striking ; the gold, silver, and jewels donned 
by the foreigners in compliment to the anniversary festival 
of our patriot and hero certainly adding splendor to the 
scene. The captivating D'Asprament made his debut in 
brilliant crimson indispensables laced with gold, an em- 
broidered coat, stars and orders, golden scabbard and gold- 
en spurs. Poor girls ! perfectly irresistible in person, he 
besieged their hearts ; and, not content with his triumphs 
there, his sword entangled their gowns, his spurs demolished 
their flounces in the most attractive manner possible, — 
altogether he was proclaimed invincibly charming. Mons. 
de Neuville has adopted a new course since his return. 
Formerly, his secretaries were remarkably small and in- 
significant in appearance, and he now appears to have 
selected his legation by their inches. The most cultivated 
Frenchman whom I have ever met is now in Mons. de 
Neuville's family, — the Chevalier du Menu. He has re- 
sided ten years in America, and is a poet, orator, and 
scientific man, though still young " 

Mr. Stratford Canning, the son of a London mer- 
chant, and a cousin of the eminent statesman George 
Canning, who died in 1827 while Prime Minister of 
England, filled very acceptably during three years the 
post of British Envoy to Washington ; and although 
not possessing the popular manners of his predecessor 
Mr. Bagot, he was remarkable for exquisite high 
breeding, refinement, and the best attributes of an 



154 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

English gentleman, which won the appreciation of the 
government and warm good-will of the community. 
He was tall, slender, and somewhat out of health, a 
consequence of which delicate state created some 
animadversion among the genial convives of the day. 
The fashion then prevailing of drinking wine with 
each guest, Mr. Canning, instead of a decanter of gen- 
erous Burgundy, always had one of toast-and- water 
placed at his plate, in which innocuous beverage he 
pledged the health of all ; but his ruse was discovered, 
and subjected him to some ill-natured criticism. 

Although of a perfect and captivating courtesy, he 
was reserved in manner, and it is said sometimes 
allowed his diplomatic suavity to be overcome by a 
certain impatience and even asperity of temper, which 
subsequently, on a grander stage and while adjusting 
the most delicate and momentous negotiations, unfor- 
tunately developed into an acrimony which, irritating 
Prince Gortschakoff, incited the famous Eussian " ulti- 
matum," and precipitated the great powers into the 
Crimean war. In 1841 Mr. — then Sir Stratford — 
Canning was appointed Ambassador at the Porte, 
where he remained until the close of the war; his 
prolonged study of Eastern politics, his diplomatic 
sagacity, and his unequalled influence over the Sultan 
enabling him to perform very important services for 
his country, especially as connected with the status 
of Christians in Turkey. He also showed acceptable 
kindness, politically and socially, to Americans, on 
various occasions while in Constantinople. In 1852 
he was raised to the peerage, under the title of Vis- 
count Stratford de EedclyfYe. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 155 

" 1822. 
" . . . . You will perceive that among the new members 
there are as many speakers as usual, and that consequently 
your sons are sufficiently occupied, notwithstanding their ac- 
quisition of a stenographer at $ 1,000 per session. I think, 
dear father, you would have thought this handsome com- 
pensation when you pursued the same avocation with more 
indefatigable intensity in Philadelphia. You will perceive 
by the debates that truly the course of editors never does 
run smooth. In truth, 't is a thankless task in most 
instances, considering too that the labor is voluntary and 
of no pecuniary value, unless enhancing the interest of the 
paper may be considered an equivalent for querulous 
carping and fault-finding from dissatisfied members, who 
feel themselves slighted in not finding their wisdom dis- 
played to their constituents in two or three columns of the 
Intelligencer. Joseph writhes under these attacks, being 
never very tolerant of censure, but William bears them 
with rather amused patience. Some of the friends of the 
editors begin to be extremely anxious to know under what 
colors the Intelligencer will sail during the next three 
years' voyage, and urge them to declare immediately in 
favor of the only man fit to guide the government bark, 
each individual probably having a different man in view. 
Encompassed as they are by friends in the shape of presi- 
dential candidates, the choice will be unpleasant, come 
when it may, and they feel no anxiety to anticipate the 
free and full expression of the Republican majority;. 
Meantime, the present incumbent is treated with very little 
ceremony, while casting about for his successor ; and there 
was some humor in Colvin's proposition, that " a commit- 
tee be appointed to wait on the President and ask hi in to 
have the goodness to resign, inasmuch as gentlemen were 
in a hurry and did not like to wait " 



156 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

" The Unitarian church has been dedicated with all the 
solemnity and simplicity characterizing the profession of 
its members. Mr. Little's discourse on the occasion was 
irresistibly forcible and pathetic, his impressive manner 
adding to its exceeding interest. The performance of the 
choir created pleasure and surprise in all the audience, who 
were not aware of the harmonious treat prepared for them. 
How we wished that you, dear father, could have been 
present to join in every part of the day's services. There 
were upwards of four hundred persons present, which, con- 
sidering that the Bishop preached and administered the 
rite of confirmation at the Episcopal church, wasNa, very 
large congregation. If you will now come to us, you may 
worship God according to the mode you prefer, and under 
the voice of a man after your own heart, for so I think 
Mr. Little will prove. So patriarchal in appearance, mild 
and truthful, yet so energetic in his appeals to the reason 
and the heart, that the most indifferent auditor finds 
himself imperceptibly engaged in self-examination. TEe 
closing sentences of his beautiful effort were thus : " All is 
torpidity in the grave. ' Shall it be said that we have left 
no useful memorial behind us ? What ! not a handful of 
grass which the mower may regard as the fruit of our 
labor % Forbid it, Gracious Father ! These walls I trust 
will bear witness that our lives have not been altogether 
useless to mankind. Some I hope may be better and 
wiser for our exertions in the cause of truth. If not in an 
obvious and direct manner, } T et in some effectual way may 
we have served our generation, and promoted the knowl- 
edge, the service, and the will of the one true GodP 

As has been seen, Joseph Gales had been mainly 
instrumental in the dissemination of his religious 
faith in Philadelphia, by his successful efforts in the 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 157 

establishment of the first church 1 erected there for the 
worship of Unitarian Christians, while his name will 
be held in grateful memory as being in truth the 
founder of Unitarianism in Charleston and Washing- 
ton. His daughter married the Eev. Anthony Forster, 
an esteemed Presbyterian divine of the former city, 
who, a year afterwards, announced to Mr. Gales his 
renunciation of Calvinism, saying : " In reading all the 
most eminent works on divinity in order to convince 
you of your error, the issue has been that I am con- 
vinced of my own." Mr. Forster was ordained pastor 
oi the first Unitarian Church of South Carolina, being 
at his death succeeded in the pastorate by Eev. Mr. 
Gilman, of Massachusetts. Mrs. Seaton thus writes of 
her relative's change of views : — 

"That he whom I have been accustomed to consider 
most tenacious, bigoted even, in adherence to the Athanasian 
creed, should abjure its fallacies, seems almost miraculous ! 
But the simplicity of truth has prevailed. I firmly believe 
the day not far distant when these principles will receive 
enlightened encouragement throughout America. Massa- 
chusetts generally is Unitarian, its learned men and pro- 
fessors being for the most part decidedly averse to the 
inculcation of Trinitarian doctrines. Most of the eminent 
clergymen of Boston have seceded, and refuse to subscribe 
to the Thirty-nine Articles. Many of the most intellectual 
and pious strangers, as well as citizens among our acquaint-* 
ances, agree perfectly in this gospel doctrine, against which 
I have never yet heard nor read a word to counteract 
my early prepossession." 

It was chiefly through the influence and active aid 
of Mr. Seaton, and his brother-in-law Mr. Gales, that 



158 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

the church of their faith was founded in Washington, 
then the outpost of liberal Christianity. Among its 
warm friends and consistent adherents was Mr/ Cal- 
houn, who, on the occasion of contributing generously 
to the erection of the church, remarked to Mr. Seaton, 
that " Unitarianism was the true faith, and must ulti- 
mately prevail over the world." 

" Boston, 1823. 

" .... I close my letter with a few words as to the 
most interesting visit I have ever yet paid, — to^he vener- 
able ex-President John AdamS, residing at Quincy, nine miles 
from Boston. Our good friend John Quincy Adams is here, 
in the same house with us, and this morning invited him- 
self to a seat in our carriage for the purpose of introducing 
us to his venerated father. It happened to be an impor- 
tant day, the patriarchal statesman having appointed it 
to review the Boston Democratic company of Fusileers, who 
went out for the purpose. We found him sitting to the 
famous Stuart for his portrait, to be completed on his 
eighty-ninth birthday. Mr. Adams led me to him and said 
a few words aside, when I was quite affected by his rising 
from the sofa, and affectionately kissing my cheek, bid- 
ding me welcome to Quincy. He is very infirm, his voice 
tremulous with age ; but he retains all the dignity which I 
have heard ascribed to him, with nothing of the hauteur. 
We partook ' with himself, John Quincy Adams, and a 
younger brother, and a large family circle, of a collation 
prepared for the Corps of Fusileers, the officers participating 
with us, the privates occupying another room. We were 
delighted, and the scene will not easily be eradicated from 
our memory. On taking leave we were pressingly invited 
to repeat our visit, and thanked for the compliment of 
paying our respects." 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 159 

"December, 1823. 

" . . . . You will see that our congressional body take 
things coolly. After they once fairly enter the arena, how- 
ever, we shall have no deficiency of warmth, I presume ; 
and we are prepared for an unusual display of eloquence 
from Mr. Webster, and other conspicuous members, on the 
subject of the Greeks. My impression is that they push 
the matter too far in the Northern cities, when they extend 
their views beyond an expression of sympathy in sufferings 
incurred in the cause of freedom, and individual contribu- 
tions for the relief and assistance of a brave people. 

" Propositions to alter and amend the Constitution, in 
time to operate on the Presidential election, will also elicit 
much declamation ; and, after the ice is once broken, there 
will be occupation for all the stenographers who attend 
Congress, — some dozen 6*r two now. You have no con- 
ception of the attentions with which the winning, courtly 
Mr. Clay, and the interesting, agreeable Mr. Calhoun ply 
the new and old members here. Mr. Macon, with his 
usual obstinacy, and to be different in detail if not- in 
principle, from his party, is an anti-caucus man, and will 
countenance no such practice. I suppose he will prove 
that there were no caucuses in the time of Moses, and 
therefore there is no necessity for them now. Such is the 
argument with which he usually winds up his opinions. 
.... I conversed to-day with Dr. Holcombe, from New 
Jersey, who has been called in to Mr. Crawford, who is 
extremely low. His general debility has occasioned an 
affection of the eyes, exceedingly painful, compelling him 
to remain with them bandaged in a dark room, which will 
be an incalculable disadvantage when Congress is becoming 
impatient for the Treasury Report, and when he will re- 
quire all his eyes to make no second blunder. William has 
seen him this morning, and reports his health and constitu- 



160 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

tion as apparently shattered. He has been bled twenty- 
three times, largely, within three weeks. The physicians 
apprehend total blindness, the confirmation of which fear 
would be an irremediable misfortune in a President. My 
private opinion is, that he will never live to be President. 
His herculean size and almost entire blindness bring to 
my mind ' Samson,' as I conceived him to be in my early 
years. I trust, however, that he will recover, to defeat 
the insidious as well as open attempts to injure him. 
Doubly now do we deprecate the event of his being with 
drawn from the contest, as we could not conscientiously sup- 
port his probable rival, a man so unreasonable and exacting 
in all his concerns, and with whom it would be difficult to 
transact business without forfeiting independence. Except 
Mr. Adams, the editors have never thought of any other 
candidate but Mr. Crawford, tfne recent conduct of Mr. 

would leave only a choice of evils. He has displayed 

a vindictive, implacable resentment for an oversight in 
the publication of his documents, which ought not to have 
created an emotion of anger, and which was corrected as 
soon as pointed out to the editors ; but because the whole 
paper was not made subservient to his particular interests 

to the exclusion of others, he cannot forgive Truth 

to say, however, I believe that his self-love being wounded 
was the principal reason for his conduct ; and I begin to 
think, with Timothy Pickering, that he is unrelenting 
when either ambition or vanity is concerned. 

" The war waxes hot, and it will continue until after the 
exciting election. Mr. Adams moves neither to the right 
nor left, but keeps an undeviating course, regardless of the 
opinion of friend or foe. Mr. Clay spares neither of the 
editors of the ' Intelligencer ' as such, nor the men person- 
ally, whenever opportunity presents ; for they are unaccus- 
tomed to bow to any authority save that of conscientious 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 161 

duty, and will teach this Western Hotspur that they control 
public opinion and the ( most sweet voices ' he is so anxious 
to win. General Jackson appears to possess quite as much 
suaviter in modo as fortiter in re. He is, indeed, a polished 
and perfect courtier in female society, and polite to all. 
He will, however, if our President, have a most. warlike 
cabinet, I presume, and will send his Message to Congress 
by the Secretary of War, flanked by Orderly Sergeants. A 
more despotic sovereign would not reign in Europe 

All well with us. 

" Your dutiful and affectionate 

" Sarah." 

"Richmond, July 15, 1824. 

" My dear Sir, — My friend Mr. William Ruffin, of 
Raleigh, writes me for Mr* J. Q. Adams's letter to Gen- 
eral -Smith's constituents. I have no spare number, but 
you have pamphlet copies. Do send him one and charge 
it to the good cause. Virginia is firm as the Rock of 
Gibraltar. My friend writes me (I have it confirmed by 
another letter by the same mail), that Mr. Crawford will 
get the electoral vote of North Carolina. Come out boldly. 
Trust to God and your country. Crawford and truth will 
triumph. His friends must be bold, firm, active, and there 
is no danger of his non-success. The country 's up. Speak 
out, without mincing or modification. You are the ad- 
vocate of the cause of Truth ; speak as her friends ought 
always to speak when the public weal demands it, — fear- 
lessly and freely. Adams's friends are reeling, and, in all 
directions, confessing nobly and conscientiously that they 
cannot support him. 

"The time draws nigh. The crisis has come. Three 
. months decide the contest. The country is large, and it 
takes some time for the voice to reach to our remotest 
hamlets. 



162 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

" I assure you, in confidence, that all parties here think 
the JV. Intelligencer is too mild. Your enemies here are 
chuckling at your late appearance of giving up to Mr. 
Adams. Excuse me for my suggestions. I should be the 
first to call them impertinent and officious if the good of 
the country was not at stake. 

"In haste, yours, 

" Thomas ffciTcmE. 
"To Mr. Seaton." 

Mr. George Bancroft relates the following charac- 
teristic anecdote of the great Carolina statesman's 
political aspirations. "When Monroe was about to 
retire from the office of President there was a great 
struggle for the snccessorship. Calhoun desired to be 
a candidate. Mr. Seaton had a great regard for Mr. 
Calhoun, but thought his* nomination at that time 
would be premature. One evening as they were walk- 
ing together by the banks of the Potomac Mr. Seaton 
reasoned with him, using the argument : ' At the end 
of your second term you will be still in the prime of 
manhood. What would you do ? ' And Calhoun an- 
swered, ' I would retire and write my memoirs.' " 

The following letter from our great historian and 
diplomatist is a graceful expression of the feeling en- 
tertained by him for Mr. and Mrs. Seaton ; a friend- 
ship which was mutual and lasting. 

" My dear Sir, — If I may judge of your sentiments 
by the lively recollections I retain of the very pleasant 
hours it was my happiness three winters ago to pass in 
your family, I should believe that I am not yet entirely 
forgotten in the circle to which you and Mrs. Seaton so 
kindly bade me welcome. It is in that persuasion that I 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 163 

venture to direct my publisher to send you a volume which 
will reach you shortly after the adjournment of Congress j 
and which, I hope, will then find you able to give an hour 
or two to its contents, and perhaps win a little time from 
Mrs. Seaton. Of her approbation I should be proud indeed. 
" I have been long engaged in gathering material for 
writing a history of the United -States. I dare not own to 
you how much labor I have given to the preparation. One 
volume I have completed and printed ; it is that which I 
have taken the liberty to send you. Accustomed to a large 
consideration of the affairs of the country, you are emi- 
nently qualified to pass an opinion upon the manner in 
which the work is conceived. I confess my desire that you 
may find leisure to make the work a subject of careful 
criticism. Your views would be exceedingly valuable to 
me ; as the work is, in its design at least, national, I feel 
a strong hope that it will win your approbation. I beg to 
be remembered with respectful regard to Mrs. Seaton and 
your family. How unlike the quiet of the village in which I 
reside is the turbulent ambition of Washington. Should 
you and Mrs. Seaton travel to the North, pray promise her 
from me the richest of our fine moss-roses, and the most 
delicate of our fruit and flowers. 

" With sincere respect, yours, 

" Geokgb Bancroft. 
"Mr. Seaton. 

"Northampton, Mass., June 21, 1834." 

"September, 1824. 

" You will see, dear mother, that Lafayette is expected 
on the first ; and nothing is heard but drumming, nothing 
seen but regiments from one end of the District to the 
other. The Committee of Arrangements, of which Wil- 
liam is one, have some very magnificent plans in view, as 
yet secrets of state. Amongst them one, which, if carried 



164 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

into effect, would be unique, sub rosa, of course, viz. to 
throw a treble arch over the central dome of the Capitol, 
containing three rows of colored lamps of primary colors, 
to represent a rainbow. It will require about six thousand 
lamps, which fortunately can be furnished at a mere 
marevedi in comparison with former cost. 

" There is no withstanding public opinion, and William 
has consented that Augustine, at the head of his company, 
shall be allowed to meet Lafayette at the District line ; 
so the young Captain and Ensigns are in a way to tread 
the Avenue with as much precision and dignity as their 
fathers." 

An eloquent pen characterizing Mr. Seaton's attri- 
butes at this period says : " The course of Mr. Seaton's 
life from a period little advanced from boyhood was 
such as to insure, indeed, to necessitate, an intimate 
•familiarity with the men and events of his time, with 
all changes of public opinion, with all discussions of 
constitutional law, with all the movements of inter- 
est, prejudice, and affection by which the affairs of 
the world are governed. The thoughts, the passions, 
the motives of his fellow-men were necessarily with 
him subjects of scrutinizing observation and intelli- 
gent reflection. When he removed to Washington, the 
sphere of his observation and influence was, of course, 
greatly widened. The trusted Mend and counsellor 
of the earlier administrations, there can be no doubt 
that, as he was the depositary of their confidence, he 
often contributed in no small degree to shape their 
measures." These advantages, united to the personal 
charm of Mr. Seaton, had not failed to give him an 
enviable status in the consideration of his fellow- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 165 

citizens. His genial cordiality, Ids captivating courtesy, 
his large hospitality, and a readiness of beneficence 
having few equals, had won their individual affection, 
while their confidence was based on the justice, the 
candor, the uprightness of purpose and generosity of 
temper characterizing his daily walk of life. 

They already relied on him as their most able coad- 
jutor in every plan having for its object the welfare 
of the city ; and turned to him as their representative 
on all civic public occasions, whether the duty involved 
were to offer an address of welcome to an incoming, 
or to speed the parting President, — to inaugurate 
benevolent institutions, or to assume the more deli- 
cate and gracious task of presiding at social festivals. 
Possessed of these unusual traits, Mr. Seaton naturally 
would be chosen to sustain the principal part in offer- 
ing the city's hospitality to foreigners of distinction ; 
and thus, upon the occasion of Lafayette's sojourn in 
our midst, upon Mr. Seaton, although in no official 
capacity, seemed by tacit consent to devolve the 
special charge of the nation's guest. Those who for 
half a century were familiar with Mr. Seaton's varied 
attributes can well understand that his conversational 
gift, his full intelligence, his noble presence and the 
seal of distinction with which nature had stamped him, 
should have fascinated our great French ally, who, 
versed in every phase of life, — from the brilliant 
circles about the throne to the camp-fires of our 
colonial wilderness, — was a keen judge of men ; and , 
a sure index of Mr. Seaton's power of attraction may 
be discerned in the friendship then formed, and cher- 
ished for him through life by Lafayette. 



166 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

Mr. Seaton was Secretary to the Committee charged 
with the duty of proceeding to Baltimore to welcome 
and escort Lafayette to Washington. The gastronomic 
excellence for which the fair Monumental City has 
ever been famed found an appreciative judge in the 
illustrious guest, who, on the occasion of the break- 
fast at Barnum's, Mr. Seaton described as especially 
enjoying the fine bay perch, six of which he con- 
sumed, bread a discretion, all washed down with 
generous Bordeaux; the culmination of his enthusi- 
asm, however, being reserved for the unsurpassed 
canvas-back duck and hominy ; and so constantly 
was the General in the open air with receptions, 
processions, and speeches, — the excitement naturally 
inducing an unusual appetite, — that the consumption 
of a whole duck would be the tribute paid by him 
to the excellence of our unequalled Southern winged 
delicacy, the enjoyment of which a subsequent distin- 
guished traveller, Lord Morpeth, declared to be worth 
a voyage across the Atlantic. 

Among the noteworthy incidents attending Lafay- 
ette's reception in Washington was that described in 
the following letter by Mrs. Seaton, whose modesty, 
however, did not permit her to express the charm lent 
by her presence and that of her attendant maidens, to 
the welcome extended to the General. 

"October, 1824. 
"Dear Mother, — I don't know how it was, but I cer- 
tainly figured more than I had any wish or expectation of 
doing, on the day of Lafayette's arrival. In the first place, 
I was selected by the committee of arrangements to super- 
intend the dress and decoration of twenty-five young ladies 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 167 

representing the States and District, and procure appro* 
priate wreaths, scarfs, and Lafayette gloves and flags for 
the occasion, to assemble them at my house, and attend 
them under my protection to the Capitol. 

" I had previously been influenced by various reasons to 
present a flag to the ' Washington Guards,' of which Wil- 
liam is the proud Captain ; and as this was now a duty, I 
determined to make it a pleasant one, and to avail myself 
of the dear little children's presence to render my own 
position less conspicuous by being thus surrounded. 

" At eight o'clock a crowd had assembled around the 
house, and many friends were within to witness the cere- 
mony. The little girls were in uniform, long blue scarfs, 
hair curling down, and wreaths of eglantine on their pretty 
young heads. They formed in double line, separating on 
each side of the front steps, twenty being so disposed, 
while four were selected — of which J. represented North 
Carolina and M. Virginia — to bear the flag to the centre 
of the stone-platform, and forming a star, to await the 
Priestess of the ceremonies, who, stepping forth arrayed in 
India muslin trimmed with blue ribbons and lace, and with 
a nodding but modest plume of the same color, making 
the most of her height, thus, as nearly as recollected, ad- 
dressed the Guards : — 

"'Friends and Gentlemen of the Guards, — This 
standard is presented to the Washington Guards as a 
tribute of respect, in the firm belief that the gift will 
never be dishonored, nor the motto which it bears disgraced 
by the youngest brother of the company. (Debellaverunt 
over Lafayette and Washington : " They fought together.'** 
Titubimur in the clouds : "We follow in your steps.") The 
deep interest which my husband feels in your corps, and 
the high post with which he is honored in it, will always 
inspire me with the truest solicitude for its reputation and 



168 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

success. Should the day of trial come and events call 
them to the field, I entertain the most trustful hope that 
the Washington Guards will be distinguished by a noble 
devotion to the cause of their country, and that in the 
protection of wives, children, and friends they will be 
the last to desert their standard.' 

" Modesty forbids my description of the reception of this 
simple little address, and the Lieutenant's glowing reply ; 
suffice it to say, that I was formally petitioned on behalf 
of the corps to allow its publication ; being unable to do 
so, however, from the circumstance of trusting to the ex- 
citement of the occasion and having no notes. And so I 
was saved from the mortification of blazing at the head of 
the Gazette columns, and can say very cheerfully, ' All 's 
well that ends well.' I should have liked my friends in 
Ealeigh to see the little States arranged around me ; it was 
a perfect parterre, and Judge Cranch, with other elderly 
gentlemen present, were affected by their interesting ap- 
pearance and delighted countenances. The picture was 
complete as they moved off, surrounded by their escort 
the 'Young Guards,' commanded by Captain Augustine 
Seaton, preceding my guard of honor commanded by his 
father, Captain William Seaton. Augustine's company has 
eclipsed even the veterans here, and was declared to be the 
best drilled volunteer corps at the reception of Lafayette 
in Alexandria L At General Brown's ball I was pre- 
sented to Lafayette, once by mine host, once by my 
husband. On both occasions my hands were most affec- 
tionately pressed, though I had my suspicions that my 
' second introduction was like unto the first in the Veteran's 
eyes, it being next to an impossibility that he should rec- 
ognize all the ladies with whom he was compelled to shake 
hands, amounting to thousands during his triumphant 
tour You ask what influence politics have upon 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 169 

social intercourse, — positively none. No individual could 
have had more enjoyment, or been treated with more atten- 
tive politeness by the master of the feast, than I, at Mr. 
Adams's ball. Mr. Calhoun's family and ourselves are, and 
always have been, on terms of kindest intimacy. Our cause, 
however, seems shivering in the wind, and I would not 
venture a baubee on the Presidential election now, for one 
candidate or the other, so uncertain does it appear in the 
perspective. The Ultras now court the people with all 

assiduity William has had the onus of the banquet 

and other civilities offered to the General, and indeed by gen- 
eral consent, the charge of our illustrious Guest's entertain- 
ment has mainly devolved on him ; how acceptably he per- 
forms the social behest the public voice proclaims 

" Your affectionate daughter, 

• " S." 

The form of invitation to this historical festival was 
characteristic of the simplicity of style then prevailing, 
the one fortunately preserved being as follows : — 

" The Committee of Arrangements respectfully request 
the Secretary of War to dine with General Lafayette this 
day at the Franklin House, at five o'clock. 

"W. W. Seaton, Secretary." 

"October 12, 1824." 

The Franklin House was kept by O'Neale, being 
one of the row of houses since known to the old resi- 
dents as the Cf Six Buildings " ; and here were gathered 
those whose deeds had already given them fame, with 
others whose names were to be imperishably written 
in their country's history. Mr. Seaton's toast on the 
occasion was: "The United States and France — their 
early friendship — may it ever be maintained by mu- 



170 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

tual acts of kindness and justice/' — the qualities 
which so conspicuously characterized the whole life of 
him who offered the sentiment. 

"December 16, 1824. 
" Last evening we had the high gratification of enter- 
taining and welcoming Lafayette in our own house, being 
the only private individuals so honored, as yet. Three hun- 
dred and sixty persons took leave of him last evening, 
being withia a score of those invited ; and, although a very 
crowded party, I hope not an unpleasant one to the old 
General. He is very lame, and we contrived to keep him 
seated as much as his extreme politeness would allow. 
Those persons who had never before been so closely in 
contact with him were brought forward and introduced ; 
those who already had been presented availed themselves 
of their privilege to converse with the hero. My chamber 
and the large nursery were deranged and arranged for the 
occasion, serving as card and supper Tooms. We danced in 
the dining ahd drawing rooms, the latter opened for the first 
time, and thus pleasantly inaugurated. I never saw a gayer 
or, / think, a more agreeable party. The guest of the 
evening was evidently gratified, and we were told from 
every source that it was enchanting. The leader of the 
Marine Band came up in the morning and requested to 
play for us in the evening, which added much to the enjoy- 
ment. All the cabinet were with us except Mr. Crawford, 
who could not come, and the Executive, who was not asked. 
Mr. J. Q. Adams and family seemed to enjoy themselves 
as much as our other friends, notwithstanding our wordy 
war. Every member of the diplomatic . corps was here 
except Baron de Mareuil and family, the French Minister, 
who are en grand deuil for the King of France, and by 
court etiquette are precluded from society for three months. 
I regretted their absence, as Madame Mareuil is an excel- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 171 

lent and very attractive woman, superior to the generality 

of her countrywomen whom I have met There has 

not been such buoyancy of feeling in my heart for several 
years as I experienced last evening, and William and Jo- 
seph were rejoiced to see me dance once more. All of our 
old friends were here, in great glee, among the members, 
except Mr. Macon, who never goes out at night La- 
fayette goes with us next Sunday to the Unitarian church, 
being desirous of hearing Mr. Little, of whose fervid elo- 
quence he has heard much " 

"December, 1824. 
" My dear William is from home for a few days in Phila- 
delphia, having paid Lafayette the compliment of accom- 
panying him as far as Baltimore, attending him to the 
cattle-show, and receiving, as proxy for Joseph, a pair of 
prize goblets, awarded by the committee and presented by 
Lafayette, for the two finest hogs which were exhibited, 

and about which Joseph is quite exultant I was 

privileged a few days ago to enjoy an unusual opportunity 
of quiet converse with the ' nation's guest.' The Marquis 
was very intimate with Joel Barlow, and they passed most 
of their time together during the stay of the latter in 
France ; consequently Mrs. Bomford (sister of Mrs. Barlow, 
as you know) is a great favorite of the Marquis ; and I am 
of Mrs. Bomford ; and consequently, again, I received an 
intimation that he would spend a private en famille evening- 
there, in which I needed no pressing to participate. Wil- 
liam and the Mayor were to escort him there from the 
President's ; and I went solus. I found no company but 
the families of Mr. Cutts (brother-in-law of Mrs. Madison) 
and General Dearborn, old friends of ours both; and we 
passed a most agreeable and charming evening, from whence 
we accompanied the General to the concert. We had much 
plain, pleasant conversation, in which the benevolent old 



172 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

hero participated with all the characteristic ardor of an 

accomplished Frenchman " 

"January, .1825. 
" My dear Mother, — The bearer of this note is Colonel 
G. C, of Georgia, whose name you will perhaps recollect 

as pertaining to one of W.'s quondam lovers He is 

a decided Jacksonite, and insists that I had a design on his 
political principles ' by ushering him into the presence ' of 
Mrs. Jackson, at the great ball given by General Brown on 
the eighth of January. I introduced him to every one, 
and he was much pleased with the first bona fide squeeze 
he has attended in the metropolis. The whole city was 
invited to celebrate the anniversary of Jackson's victory ; 
and I wish it may not be the only victory at which he may 
have an opportunity of rejoicing, though Mr. Crawford's 
friends are still sanguine rather than despairing. Much 
depends on Mr. Clay, and he is scarcely to be depended on. 
The different candidates are very jocose with each other. 
At Mr. Calhoun's ball last week I stood among the dancers 
with Mr. Adams, when Mr. Clay passed in high glee, laugh- 
ing, and saying he was much in the way of the dancers ; 
or rather, they were very troublesome to him. * 0,' says J. 
Q., ' that is very unkind ; you who get out of every body 
else's way, you know.' This dry joke, so evidently allud- 
ing to his exclusion from the House of Representatives, 
was received as merrily as it was given, and they both 
' laughed long and loud.' Mrs. Adams came to see me this 
morning, being the first visit without invitation which has 
been exchanged since that unlucky stab under the fifth 
rib. They are all very courteous just now ; but should 
Mrs. A. be Presidentess, .... she, perhaps, will not for- 
get that her husband was foiled in combat with us even 

with his own weapon, — the pen \Ve received a 

letter from John S. Skinner yesterday, saying : ' We are 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 173 

dished /' but I hope not. There is no more reason for 
despair on the part of Mr. Crawford's friends now than 
heretofore, and they don't ' give up the ship.' 

" We have now completed our homage to Liberty in the 
person of Lafayette. Congress can do nothing more, ask- 
ing as a favor, by resolution of the House, that he will add 
to their obligations to him by accepting a grant of two 
hundred thousand dollars and a township of land. They 
are to give him, also, a public dinner at a cost of one thou- 
sand dollars All well with my little folk, and I am 

the happiest wife, mother, and daughter in Christendom. 
With tenderest love to our father and yourself, 

" Your dutiful daughter, 

"Sarah Seaton." 
" February 15, 1825. 

" Dear Weston, — Lest our paper of to-morrow should 
by accident not reach you in time for Friday's Register, I 
use a page of Sarah's letter to say that last evening, pur- 
suant to notice, a number of the Republican members, 
about sixty-eight or seventy, met in the Capitol to recom- 
mend to their fellow-citizens candidates for the Presidency 
and Vice-Presidency. Of the number present, Mr. Craw- 
ford received (including two proxies from sick members), 
sixty-four votes for President, the rest scattering ; and the 
old Jeffersonian Republican, Albert Gallatin, received fifty- 
seven votes for Vice-President. About thirty members of 
Congress, the friends of Mr. Crawford, did not, from various 
motives, attend the caucus. Nearly one hundred members 
of the two Houses are the known and avowed friends of 
Mr. Crawford, — the remainder are divided among the 
other candidates, in about the proportion of the follow- 
ing statement, prepared for us by the members themselves ; 
by which is proven that Mr.. Crawford is the second prefer- 
ence of nearly all Mr. Adams's Republican friends. You 



174 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

may easily perceive from this why the partisans of the 
others refused to join in the convention. They thought it 
best to endeavor to put down by a joint effort the strong 
man of the nation, and then fight for the prize amongst 
themselves. They will be foiled. I am sorry that Mr. 
Macon, and Courier, of your State, threw their weight into 
the scale of the 'fragments? by refusing to join their 
friends and party in caucus. The galleries were crowded 
with not less than one thousand persons, and a more order- 
ly or dignified scene I never beheld, the splendid hall 
being brilliantly lighted. The reporters were all at their 
places, and everything conducted in the most open man- 
ner. 

" The factionists are appalled at the firmness of the 
men who met, and a purer or more sterling body of Re- 
publicans than assembled there last night the world can- 
not produce. 

" General Lafayette will leave here for Raleigh about the 
23d, but will not take Warrenton in his way, some busy- 
body having put him in such dread of the stage road, and 
fully persuaded him that he would lose two days. He tells 
me that he will touch at Halifax and Enfield, having taken 
up an idea that the latter town is a place of much impor- 
tance, perhaps derived from conversations with Mr. Branch. 
" In haste, with love to all, 

" Your affectionate Brother, 

"W. W. Seaton. 
" Weston K. Gales, Esq." 

" February, 1825. 

" . . . . Having received incessant, though for the most 
part unaccepted civilities from our friends, and there be- 
ing an unusual number of respectable and accomplished 
strangers in town from Baltimore, Lancaster, and Boston, 
from many of whom we received kind attentions during 
our Northern tour, we concluded to present our return hos- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 175 

pitality in the condensed and most acceptable mode of a 
party ; and taking advantage of the morning report from 
the nursery, " All well,'.' we invited a select and agreeable 
circle of friends for Tuesday. The evening was boisterous, 
extremely inclement, but not half a dozen of the invited 
neglected the summons, from the President's family down 
to common folk like ourselves. We had most charming 
music from Dominick Lynch, of New York, whom we met 
at Saratoga, and who is the delight of every lover of mel- 
ody. Miss Davis, of Boston, second only to our Mrs. 
French, accompanied him in his duets, which were sung 

with entrancing taste and effect Among our guests 

I must not forget to name a Prince, Achille Murat, son to 
the late King of Naples, who called with Mr. McKim of 
Baltimore, and was invited to accompany him. We had 
considerable amusement in making the young ladies desig- 
nate the Prince among other young gentlemen equally 
strangers to them, but not one succeeded, and the reason 
was evident : they associated nobility of appearance and 
striking elegance of manners with the accident of noble 
birth, and these were not particularly characteristic of our 
titled visitor, son though he is, of the dashing " beau 
sabreur" He has come to this country with the deter- 
mination to make it his future home, and has applied 
for the oath of allegiance, — is said to be plainly republi- 
can in his principles, and is certainly so in his manners. 
Old Mr. Macon would not attend the caucus, and did not 
come to our party, — both very treasonable acts in the 
eyes of his colleagues, who thought he ought to have de- 
parted from all previous obstinacy on so important occa- 
sions Our visitors remain until after the inaugura- 
tion, and while occupied with attending dancing-parties 
every evening with them, and sight-seeing every morning, 
I have been seriously apprehensive of the death, without 
the glory, of a martyr in a more noble cause." 



176 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATOtf. 

" February 24, 1825. 

" The city is thronged with strangers, and Yankees swarm 
like the locusts of Egypt in our houses, our beds, and our 
kneading-troughs ! Mr. and Mrs. Adams are perfectly 
comme il faut, — he a little more gay and polite. .... 
Their last drawing-room for the season was on Monday 
last, which we all attended, immediately after ascertaining 
our triumphant election, which spoke in a language not to 
be misunderstood, the approbation of Congress generally 
and individually. We were congratulated on every side, 
and passed a pleasant evening. The powers that be, did 
not congratulate us ; probably we had omitted the same 
ceremony in regard to them on a similar occasion. We 
should at least have been as sincere as General Jackson in 
his felicitations on Mr. Adams's accession to the Presidency. 
It is now ascertained, though not announced, that Air. 
Clay has accepted the office of Secretary of State, and Mr. 

Southard remains in the Navy Department The 

office of Secretary of War will be accepted by Governor 
Barbour, of Virginia, and Mr. Eichard Rush is to have the 
refusal of the Treasury in place of Mr. Crawford, resigned ; 
Governor Clinton to go to St. James's. The great Hal, as 
the Kentuckians style Mr. Clay, is not our friend and prob- 
ably never will be, but his friends are peculiarly ours, so 
that we shall have probably a smooth path for the next 
four years, as Mr. Adams is evidently in a conciliatory 
mood, and all the rest of the cabinet friendly. They have 
tried, and found it rather inconvenient, to do without the 
Intelligencer, which will probably hold the same place in 
relation to the administration as heretofore. Such are the 
present indications. 

" General Lafayette started yesterday towards Raleigh, 
but has taken the lower road, which provokes me, his pre- 
viously announced programme having disappointed W. of 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 177 

a pleasant sojourn with us. We had, the day previous 
to his departure, an accidental assembling of notable people 
at our house as morning visitors. General Lafayette, Le- 
vasseur, General Bernard, Major Poussin, and the Presi- 
dent's family, all calling to take leave. General Bernard 
is one of the most interesting, animated, agreeable old men 
I have ever yet seen ; and when his idol Bonaparte is the 
subject of discussion, his eyes flash with the fire of youth 
and his countenance is radiant. 

" Mr. Crawford and family are well, and have sold their 
furniture preparatory to their return to their impaired 
prospects in Georgia, which present no enlivening hope. 
I most truly feel for their disappointed views, but hold 
them in increased respect from their noble bearing of mis- 
fortune I send you a characteristic note from Mr. 

Custis, who is as vivacious as usual.' " 

George Washington Parke Custis was, as is well- 
known, the adopted son of General Washington, and 
the grandson of Mrs. Washington by her first marriage. 
During the many years in which he lived at his 
beautiful home of Arlington, he delighted in recount- 
ing to guests and pilgrims from every part of our own 
and foreign lands his personal participation in the 
momentous days of the Eevolution, and his memories 
of the social circle and domestic life of Washington. 
Countless were the anecdotes of the camp and its 
patriot heroes ; of the republican court, the beauty and 
aristocratic elegance of its belles, — while his mansion 
was a treasure-house of sacred relics of pater patrice. 
At the foot of a wooded slope of Arlington, on the 
banks of the river, was the famous spring, a crystal 
stream gushing from the root of a noble, primeval oak, 



8* L 



178 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

the grove surrounding which was, during nearly half a 
century, the resort of gay parties resting from their sail 
on the lovely Potomac, and of innumerable celebrities 
seeking respite on the shaded lawn from the turmoil 
of Washington life. Hospitable, kind, and easy in 
manner, the presence of the old man venerable was 
eagerly welcomed at the spring, to which his vivacity, 
his violin, and exhaustless reminiscences lent an at- 
traction long to be remembered. He was an amateur 
American Vernet, covering acres of canvas with battle- 
pieces, in which his beloved Chief was depicted on 
the inevitable white charger; nevertheless, these 
efforts, startling as specimens of art, were of patriotic 
interest, as drawn by one who had witnessed the 
scenes commemorated by Ins pencil, and had from 
infancy been familiar with the heroes who had made 
them immortal. 

"ApwLington House, 15th July, 1825. 
"My dear Sir, — Old John, the genius of the spring, 
gave me your card. I should have had the pleasure of 
seeing you, but that my rheumatic bones gave 'note of 
preparation ' for rain, and I sat down to finish Mademoi- 
selle de Genlis, and left the farm to the comfort of the 
showers, which I hoped would fall upon it. I could have 
shown you much improvement in grass, better than Smith's 
philosopher, who only caused 'two spears to grow where 
but one grew before,' whereas I have caused them to 
grow where none grew before. You will find the spring a 
comfortable place for Aldermen to retire to from feasting 
and fagging in the toils of elections and great city affairs, 
or for you laborers of the type; and if you are not 
' worthy of your hire,' 't is not because the sweat of your 
brains is less than that of your brow, vr that you have one 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 179 

moment to rest them for 'lack of argument.' Then 

come over to the shades of Arlington, where peace and 

pleasant breezes, good air, good water, and a tolerably good 

fellow will make you welcome. Apropos, have you seen 

the Bolivar present ? You will find it at Gaither's, — a 

most splendid specimen of miniature painting by Field ; 

a medal well wrought for the state of the arts in Yirginia 

fifty years ago, and the venerated hair of the old chief. 

Will you propose to the Literati an illustration of •the 

* Endat Virginia primum.' Of the last, thereby ' hangs a 

tale.' I should say hominem, but 1 am only superficial in 

ancient classics, not having been, like Dr. Johnson, flogged 

enough when at school. 

" Adieu, — health and respect, 

"George W. P. Custis. 
"W. W. Seaton, Esq." 

"Arlington Spring, 3d July, 1848. 

" My dear Mr. Seaton, — I do myself the honor to 
accept your most kind invitation to dinner to-morrow. 
1 The sun is making a golden set,' and ' giving promise of a 
goodly day to-morrow.' May the auguries all be favorable, 
and the ' Eagle fly on the dexter hand' on the ever- 
glorious and venerable anniversary of the 4th of July. If 
my large equestrian painting of Washington will be of any 
service to you, either in your ceremonials or in your 
banqueting-hall, or in any way, you can procure it by 
letter from your very worthy townsman John C. Rives, 
who has it in charge, to be used on public and patriotic 
occasions. I shall to-morrow have witnessed fifty-eight 
celebrations of the 4th July, beginning with the first, under 
the present government, 1789. May to-morrow's anni- 
versary, with the great and patriotic ceremonies that will 
attend it, gladden the hearts of all Americans, and may 



ISO WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

everything go off harmoniously and happily., is the sincere 

wish of 

" Dear sir, yours faithfully, 

" George W. P. Custis. 
"To W. W. Seaton, Esq. 
" P. S. No wafers at the Spring." 

"Aklistgton House, 20th February, 1853. 

" My dear Gales & Seaton, — I send you another of 
the Recollections, in ' The last Days at Mount Vernon.' 
This will probably be the finale, as I am hard pressed by 
some of the first men in our country, including the ex- 
cellent Professor Silliman, to bring out the work entire in 
book form ; and as a man at 72, if he has anything to do 
should do it as a beefsteak should be broiled, — quickly, 
I have no time to lose. How shall I, my dear sirs, suf- 
ficiently express my grateful acknowledgments to the press 
of the National Intelligencer, that has published for me so 
long and so well, and diffused my humble works through 
all parts of the literary world ? 

" I am now (since the death of Mrs. Lewis), the sole 
survivor of the domestic family of the Chief, and the only 
human being he ever honored with the title of adopted 
son ; as such I feel a bounden duty to transmit my recollec- 
tions and private memoirs to the posterity of the Americans 
an^. the world at large, as relations coming from one, who 
of much he has told, may say ' et pars fuV I am an old 
man, untiring and untirable as a speaker, but dreadfully 
annoyed by penmanship ; so that I shall employ a litterateur 
to arrange the work, and hope to send you a presentation 
copy before a great while. As my very voluminous papers 
are in some confusion, I am not sure I have sent you the 

Revolutionary letter Accept, Dear Sirs, salutation 

and respect. 

" From your obliged faithful servant, 

" George W. P. Custis." 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 181 

"Arlington House, 21st February, 1854. 

" My dear Col. Seaton, — .... The story of the 
Lost Letters of the Raivlins Book I have put off to the 
last. It is a painful subject to me, for it implicates one 
who while living was dear to me, and whose melancholy 
end excited much commiseration many years ago. But if 
I loved my poor friend much, I love the fame and memory 
of Washington more ; and it was my duty as his biographer 
and member of his family, to place this matter in the only 
light in which it can ever appear to the world. 

" I was charmed by the visit of Mrs. Kirkland. What 
a fine, handsome woman ! I am not, therefore, surprised 
that you, my dear sir, ' a squire of dames,' should be so 
eloquent in her favor 

" Apropos of the railroad and national bridge. Will you 

not go for the Jefferson route, as described in his letter to 

me more than forty years ago, when he made a re- 

connoissance from the camp, now Observatory Hill 1 . . . . 

Recollect, if you adopt the Jefferson route, the land requisite 

for the western abutment of the bridge, at the northern 

extremity of the Arlington estate, will cost you nothing. 

My love to Gales. Believe me, my dear sir, 

" Faithfully yours, 

" George W. P. Custis. 
"Col. Seaton." 

" September, 1825. 
" My dear Mother, — We had yesterday a most kind 
note from Lafayette, proposing to spend half an hour with 
us during the last day of his stay here. The half-hour 
passed quickly in the most interesting conversation, and he 
protracted the visit until the hour had also fled. He spoke 
to me much of North Carolina, of your kind hospitality to 
him, of Washington's statue by Canova, which he says is 
a splendid monument of the sculptor's genius, but is the 



182 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

most inexcusable action of his life, as he sinned both 
against light and knowledge in making it as much like me 
as the "great Washington ! But mum to the Raleighites. 
He dwelt on the magic changes which a few short years had 
made in our cities, our arts, our wealth, and above all in our 
population, and in the most touching strain spoke of the 
spring-time of his youth when visions of hope were strong, 
and which in age he had the singular felicity of seeing 
realized. 

" Our friend Mr. John Lee, of Maryland, the representa- 
tive in Congress from Frederick, was one of the committee 
to accompany Lafayette on his visit to that place, and 
relates* the hero's sang froid on the occasion of the car- 
riage being overturned, when he was rolled over and over 
down a bank, but exhibited the utmost composure, and 
laughingly resumed his seat and conversation." 

" July 12, 1826. 
" . . . . You will see noted in the Intelligencer, Mr. 
Little's intention of answering General Smyth's and Mr. 
Shultz's proposed substitutes for the Christian Code which 
happily rules our land. He has during three successive 
Sunday evenings preached to the most crowded congrega- 
tions we have ever witnessed in our church, and many of 
those * who went to scoff remained to pray.' His argu- 
ments were unanswerable, his eloquence most admirable. 
He has now taken his undisputed pre-eminence among the 
learned, the pious and wise men of our community, which 
has hitherto been churlishly withheld by the spirit of big- 
otry. He preaches a sermon on Sunday next, commemora- 
tive of the death of the two illustrious sages who have just 
preceded him through the dark valley of the shadow of 
death. On last Sunday he announced from the pulpit the 
singular coincidence of the decease of John Adams on the 
same day with the illustrious Virginia patriot, the first re- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 183 

ceived intelligence of which event Joseph handed to him 
after service ; and in the most delicate and tonching man- 
ner Mr. Little alluded to the mistaken opinion entertained 
by many of our countrymen regarding Mr. Jefferson's deis- 
tical opinions, which he disproved absolutely by reading two 
original letters from this great man to our famous Dr. 
Priestley, when the latter first arrived from England, dated 
Washington, inviting the Christian apostle of liberty to 
visit this city and confer with him on religious topics ; 
avowing his entire belief in, and reverence for, the Scrip- 
tures, and announcing himself a Christian Unitarian. Mr. 
Little then dwelt on the warm and uniform faith in Unita- 
rianism professed by the great and venerable John Adams, 
and very cogently expressed the consolation and encourage- 
ment which Unitarians must feel in the knowledge that 
in all ages the greatest, wisest, and holiest men have been 
found professing and acting on this faith. There were 
High Churchmen, Blue Calvinists and Presbyterians, Meth- 
odists and rigid Catholics composing his auditory; and 
what with astonishment at the coincident deaths, Jeffer- 
son's letters, and the deductions drawn by Mr. Little, they 
were ' plussed, — I may say non-plussed.' .... 

" You see that Commodore Porter is actually in the Mex- 
ican service. Mrs. Porter, one of my most intimate friends, 
came to show me the articles which the Mexican govern- 
ment have entered into with him. Imprimis, they guaran- 
tee the payment of a claim on the old Mexican government 
of |50,000 or $60,000 for destroying privateers; they 
put the navy under the absolute control of Commodore 
P., he selects all his officers; he locates a certain quan- 
tity of land where he pleases ; to be made an admiral at the 
next session of Congress ; to have a specified liberal salary, 
his pay to be continued in all cases of illness or necessary 
absence in the United States, and a pension to his family in 



184: WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

case of accident or death. These are the leading features 
of the agreement Remembering father's amused in- 
terest in David Crockett's eccentricities, I send him verba- 
tim et literatim some extracts from a letter William brought 
me to read, from the odd but warm-hearted old pioneer. 

" ' Dear Friends, — .... I consider the time has come 
when every man aught to do his duty I hope the time 
will soon come when this man worship will cease. I am 
grattifyed that I can informe you that I beat in nine Coun- 
ty s out of eighteen and I beat 103 votes in the County 
that Fitz and myself both live in. and I beat him up- 
wards of six hundred in the Countys that will compose the 
district when divided and of course I will hold myself in 
readiness for the next race, by that time the people will 
see the purity of my motive all the people wants is infor- 
mation and they will do right This little Thing has been 
blowed into Congress by lying and huzzawing for Jackson 
in fact I had to run against Jackson as well as this mean 
puppy . ... he is ready to taike the coller with my dog on 
it and the name of Andrew Jackson on the Coller he will have 
the name of beating me on General Jacksons poppularity 
but this is not true, he beat me by writing down wilful 
lies and publishing to the world that which ought to sink 
every honorable man into insignificants I would rather be 
beaten and be a man than to be elected and be a little 
puppy dog I must close with great respects I remain 
" 'your obt servt 

" ' David Crockett — 
"Joseph Gailes 

and 
William Seaton. 

'"PS please to correct- errs and publish this letter. You 
know me D C — ' " 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 185 

The laborious and unintermitting duties of an edito- 
rial career allowed Mr. Seaton during his. prolonged 
life comparatively few opportunities for relaxation 
away from home, other than the shooting excursions 
in which he delighted, and which mainly contributed 
to the health and vigor enjoyed by him to a very ad- 
vanced age. This is now doubly to be regretted, as the 
results of his keen observation, candid spirit, and intel- 
ligent investigation would be an invaluable picture of 
men and manners ; while the tenderness of his nature, 
the endearing sweetness of his domestic affections, would 
be more forcibly portrayed by his own unguarded pen. 
During a visit to New England he thus writes : — 

" Portsmouth, X. H., August, 1826. 

" . . . . You will be not a little surprised to find that 
I have penetrated so far towards the extreme point of the 
New England coast ; but you will be glad that I had an 
opportunity of doing so without delaying the longed-for 
period of my return to my dear wife. I accepted yester- 
day the proposition of Mr. Harrold (an old English fac- 
tor resident in Philadelphia, well known to our English 
friends), to come down with him. Though sixty odd 
miles from Boston, such is the excellence of the roads 
and conveyances that the journey is performed in seven 
hours. I have been* exceedingly interested by the ride, as 
the road lies through Beverly, Newburyport, and numerous 
beautiful villages. This morning I spent an hour with 
Mr. Parrott and his amiable family, who I find had heard 
that report that is everywhere given of you, and which 
so often makes my heart swell with pride and happiness. 
Before dinner I walked about a mile across the Piscataqua 
bridge into the State of Maine, where at a farm-house I 
obtained a glass of the New England beverage, hard cider, 



186 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

and drank it in celebration of my first visit to the eastern- 
most State of the Union. Returning, I found the bridge- 
keeper fishing from the bridge for cod, the water being 
there sixty feet deep, and taking his line had the luck in a 
few minutes to haul up a fine large codfish, much to the 
surprise of Mr. Harrold, who accompanied me, and who, 
by the by, is even a greater walker than your excellent 
father. This you will credit when I tell you that after 
dinner we walked three miles to the fortress at the mouth 
of the river, and passed an hour on the rocky shore of the 
great deep, whose boundless expanse lay before us, contem- 
plating its ceaseless surges as they rolled in and broke on 
the cliffs. I do not think that any one not living on the 
ocean can view its vast bosom and heaving billows with- 
out experiencing feelings of solemnity and awe, that soften 
the heart and awaken all its best impulses. And if the 
heart have anything to love in the world, with how much 
force does the tide of feeling turn at such moments to the 
objects of its affection. It is not worth the while, even if 
time did not fail me, to endeavor to unravel and describe 
those complicated impressions which the sublime view be- 
fore me, and consciousness of absence from all that my 
soul holds dear, at the same time inspired, but while I 
gazed my lips involuntarily almost repeated blessings on 
you and yours and mine, and rendered absence more sor- 
rowful Captain Watson, of the Marine Corps, and 

other gentlemen, have called on me, and pressed me to re- 
main j but I must resist their kind and pleasant induce- 
ments Having finished the day, I give you its his- 
tory, before I go to bed to pray for your happiness and to 
dream of my own." 

"Northampton, August 16, 1826. 
"We reached this beautiful town last evening, and I 
must give my dearest wife a brief narrative of the journey 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 187 

and its transactions I shall never be satisfied until 

I take the ride up the lovely valley of the Connecticut in 
your sweet company. Charming as it is, I could not enjoy 
its beauties fully without you; and this place, the most lovely 
of all, would be enchanting if viewed in your presence. As 
it is, I feel it selfish to enjoy what my beloved wife is not 
at my side to partake. But I am writing of myself when 

you want to hear of your son I find Mr. Cogswell 

and Mr. Bancroft very kind, the former having been in 
Washington, he tells me, two winters ago, where he knew 
both you and myself. .... I found this morning, from the 
number of strangers in town, that something was on foot ; 
and behold, the pastor of the new and only Unitarian church 
here was to be ordained. The church is a very chaste and 
beautiful specimen of Greek architecture. Several clergy- 
men from Boston were present, among them old Dr. Ware, 
to all of whom Mr. Bancroft introduced me. My being 
known as a member of the Unitarian congregation at 
Washington increased whatever of interest I might have 
claimed of their politeness, and I was treated with a good 
deal of attention. Everything, you know, ends in New 
England with a dinner ; and after I returned to the hotel 
from the church services, which lasted four hours, I was 
waited on by some gentlemen and taken to the public 
dinner at the Masonic Hall. All the clergymen and repre- 
sentatives of churches were present, and I was placed near 
the head of the table. The repast was as cheerful as other 
dinners; and what would you, or what would any raw 
Southerner have thought, had he entered after the cloth 
had been removed, and the wine had circulated a short 
time, to see a large company standing up at a public 
dinner, and, with one voice, singing a hymn to the tune of 
Old Hundred ! I declare to you, I never was so impressed 
in my life. The spirit of devotion which among these 



188 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

descendants of the Pilgrims enters into their festivities and 
evinces the moral basis of their character, has in it some- 
thing that commands respect. After the hymn the com- 
pany separated. I was pressed by Judge Lyman and other 
gentlemen to accept hospitality at their homes, but I 
declined for the pleasure of writing to you " 

"Boston, 1826. 
" .... I came up yesterday from Salem, the ancient 
theatre of witchcraft and of faith in sea-serpents, both of 
which are cardinal points of belief with the good people of 
the place. Mr. Crowninshield, seeing me on the stage-box 
as we passed down the street, called on me, took me to his 
family, who were very earnest in their inquiries for you, 
and, with Mr. Silsbee, has been exceedingly kind and 
attentive, showing me everything worth notice in the place, 
several of which deserve very particular mention, but are 
reserved until I have the happiness to embrace my beloved 
wife. I am impatiently waiting the return of Mr. Webster, 
whom I saw at Ipswich, the oldest settlement in America, 
where we stopped for an hour. Mr. Webster was attending 
court, and made me promise to meet him here To- 
day I heard our great Channing. 0, how I wished you 
could be by my side to listen with me to his inspired 
accents, as his rapt soul seemed to ascend on high, and 

his vision to penetrate to the very presence of God 

Good night, my dearest wife ; may all good angels watch 
over you and my dear little ones. 

" Your affectionate husband, 

"W. W. Seaton." 

Mrs. Seaton writes to her mother, under date of 
October, 1826 : — 

" You will see that William is to be orator on the occa- 
sion of laying the corner-stone of the new Masonic Hall, the 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 189 

ceremonies attending which are to be especially interesting 
and imposing, President Adams and other dignitaries to 
take part in them." 

The following extracts from the eloquent address 
then delivered show how exalted was Mr. Seaton's 
estimate of the true aims of Masonry, the handmaid of 
Christianity, of the almost ideal perfection exacted 
from its sons ; the virtues thus glowingly depicted and 
held up for attainment being nobly illustrated in the 
life and character of him who paid this tribute to 
the beneficent brotherhood: — 

"You have laid the first stone of a temple to be dedi- 
cated to the most noble and the most venerable of all the 
institutions of human origin. Founded in an early age of 
the world, by men whose wisdom and sagacity were equalled 
only by their virtue and benevolence, this institution has 
survived through successive ages the various revolutions of 
mankind. Empires have risen, and flourished, and crum- 
bled into dust ; other institutions have one after another 
sunk into oblivion; while Masonry,- miraculously kept 
alive, even during the long night in which civilization 
itself was extinct, and the world lay for centuries wrapt 
in the gloom of profound barbarism, as if rendered inde- 
structible by the eternal principle of good which its im- 
mortal founders infused into its constitution, yet survives 
the lapse of thirty centuries, in. all its pristine vigor, in 
all its sublime principles, in all its mysterious rites, and 
all the loveliness of its first creation 

" I assert, then, that to be a perfect Mason implies little 
less than to be a perfect man. The perfection of its char- 
acter comprises within itself the whole circle of virtues, 
and the whole duty of man, both to his Creator and to his 
fellow-man. That these virtues impose an obligation on 



190 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

the conscience independent of any social institution is 
admitted. But we sometimes neglect our duty, not be- 
cause we are disposed to violate it, but because the obliga- 
tion it imposes is imperfectly felt, or, for a time, forgotten. 
. . . . Those institutions, therefore, which enjoin and en- 
courage the performance of our moral duty ; which cultivate 
the social temper ; which soften the asperities of the human 
character, and awaken into activity the native philanthropy 
of man, have a peculiar and happy influence upon society 
in general. Of this exalted nature, these excellent princi- 
ples, and this philanthropic tendency is the masonic insti- 
tution. Its solemn rites, its visible emblems, its peculiar 
symbols, its mystic language, were all designed to illustrate 
and to inculcate our duty to God, to our brethren, and 
ourselves ; and while they serve to distinguish Masons 
from the rest of the world, and make them known to each 
other throughout the globe, they are, at the same time, 
ever-present monitors that at once command and instruct 
us in the discharge of those high and sacred duties to which 
all Masons stand pledged by the most solemn sanctions. 
Did I say that these monitors are never disobeyed % Alas ! 
we cannot lay that flattering unction to our hearts. In 
this respect (I repeat the admission), Masonry shares the 
lot of all other institutions. But if it sometimes fails to 
make a bad man good, it never fails to make a good man 
better. 

" The leading attributes of Masonry are faith, hope, and 
charity ; but the greatest of these is charity. Charity is 
emphatically the great duty which Masons owe to each 
other, and is one of those virtues which Masons, above all 
others, are enjoined to cherish and exercise. Those vota- 
ries of Masonry who have not this virtue ought never to 
pollute her sanctuary. If we approach her altar without it 
we act impiously against the eause we profess. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 191 

" . . . . It is, in short, a compact between certain men 
throughout the world to perform towards each other, and 
to each other's families, the offices of charity and friend- 
ship, whenever the vicissitudes of fortune place them in 
a situation to require it. The same principle extends 
through other relations of society. Citizens are bound to 
allegiance; but the oath is superadded. Christians are 
bound to obedience to the Gospel, but they unite in soci- 
eties and obligations for the observance of their duties. 
Thus Masons are subject to the common duties of social 
life ; but they have added special obligations to each other, 
as the citizen to his country, and the Christian to his 
church. 

" Masonry, elevated by the nobleness of its precepts, 
derives not more interest from its venerable antiquity and 
surprising preservation, than it does from the land of its 
birth. In speaking of this ancient institution, the mind 
involuntarily recurs to the interesting region in which it 
had its origin. How pre-eminent have been the destinies 
of that remarkable portion of the globe to which poetry 
and religion and history and Masonry are continually sum- 
moning the thoughts of civilized man. Thence flow alike the 
primitive streams of our sacred and profane history, in the 
writings of the lawgiver of the Hebrews, and those of the 
venerable historian of Assyria. Nay, where but there was 
the Garden of Eden, in all the virgin glory of fresh creation, 
planted? Where but there did the sire of the human 
family first inhale the breath of life ] There, too, was the 
elected spot of earth which bore the footsteps of Eve, in 
that primeval hour, when 

' Grace was in all her steps, heaven in her eye, 
In every gesture dignity and love.' 

There, also, Chaldean sages uplifted those * lighthouses of 
the skies,' from which they scanned the march of the 



192 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

planets, and assigned the stations of the heavenly constel- 
lations. There was the land of the patriarchs. And thither 
the chosen people of God were guided by Moses to estab- 
lish a theocracy taught them amid the thunders of Mount 
Sinai, and to build up the holy city of Jerusalem, towards 
which the devotee, in whatever distant land he lives, bows 
his head in reverence. There, too, was erected the splen- 
did temple of Solomon, upon which all the skill and taste 
and wealth of the East were piled in gorgeous prodigality. 
The same fortunate land witnessed the birth, the life, and 
death of Jesus Christ, and the miracles which he wrought 
in attestation of his divine mission. And when the glory 
of that land was faded away, and the ploughshare had 
passed over the palaces of Jerusalem, the sanctity of the 
soil hallowed by every religious recollection made it the 
arena on which Christian and Saracen hosts contended for 
the mastery, — the bravest and the best of Christendom flock- 
ing thither, in the elevated enthusiasm of Chivalry, to pour 
out their blood like water for the rescue of the sepulchre 
from its infidel masters. This land, sanctified by so many 
recollections, and ennobled by events of such moment to 
the whole family of man, — this was the native land of 
Freemasonry." 

Mrs. Seaton writes under date of January 8, 1827 : — 
" . . . . You will see by the Intelligencer that person- 
alities are the order of the day, and that the ' honorable, 
excellent, worthy, high-minded, and amiable ' editors there- 
of have had their full share of eulogium. 'T is rather an 
amusing position in which they are placed, attending Con- 
gress daily in the line of their duty as stenographers, and 
laboring in their vocation, to listen to praises from every 
side of the House on a subject in which they are not at all 
interested except as ' lookers on in Vienna.' The resolu- 
tion introduced by General Sanders was entirely unadvised 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 193 

and unexpected by your sons, and rather deprecated by 

them Mr. Clay sits rather uneasy, no doubt, to 

have the propriety of his reasons and causes doubted, 
when he only exercised his sovereign pleasure. You see 
that William is accounted a Carolinian, and since 'poor 
Virginia and her state rights have been so conspicuously 
wrong, I suppose he will brook the affront. We want no 
fussing (I believe a legitimate Yorkshire word); if the 
members choose to quarrel among themselves they must 
use their own discretion. The Bankrupt Bill, the Tariff, 
woollens and all, have not excited a tithe of the attention 
and interest which this merely personal question has given 
rise to. It is not expected that the bankrupt bill will ex- 
perience a better fate by being reconsidered after its rejec- 
tion in the House, which on every score is a subject of 
regret. Parties will wax hot as the session advances, as 
there is a great deal of anger and ill-nature in some of the 
members opposed to the administration ; but we feel san- 
guine that the fair course pursued by the Intelligencer 
will carry us safely through the ordeal. Dr. Floyd has 
become the warm friend of Calhoun, and hates Adams and 
everybody who thinks differently from himself; but then 
he says he loves Mrs. Seaton so well !!.... Mrs. Everett 
and many of the members' wives have been to see me ; but 
Mrs. Webster is not here, I regret to say, as she is one of 

the strangers whose society I most enjoy Guns are 

firing from every point, and great demonstrations of re- 
joicing are made to celebrate the anniversary of Jackson's 
victory, and to give eclat to the dinner to-day, which has 
become an entire party matter, and will draw the line of 
demarcation in social as well as political circles more dis- 
tinctly than hitherto " 

"March, 1827. 
" . . . .1 have received a long letter from Mrs. Porter, 

9 M 



194 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

who sends her kind love to you. She is with her parents, 
and wields a graphic pen ; but my heart bleeds for her in 
the state of incertitude to which she may be condemned 
for weeks or months. The Commodore is blockaded by so 
superior a force as renders his escape next to impossible ; 
though, 

* What man dare do, he '11 dare ; who dares do more is none.' 

" In that state of mind which rejects desultory, miscella- 
neous reading, as being insufficient to ward off recollections 
and poignant feelings which every sense of duty warned 
me to struggle with and overcome, ere they destroyed my 
peace and health, I applied myself indefatigably to the 
study of Spanish, by which I have benefited myself and 
gratified William. I have already found it useful in trans- 
lating Mexican documents, Spanish papers, etc., for the 
Intelligencer, and it may be that my interest in everything 
concerning poor Porter is increased by tracing his prepara- 
tions and movements. 

"You will perceive that the Senate election has gone 
against us, and that some of our old friends have deserted 
us in our hour of need. Branch, Eaton, and other summer 
friends, we did not expect to support us. There was great 
excitement in both House and Senate, and Mr. Webster 
came up after balloting, to ask what they could do in the 
House to counterbalance the spite of the Senate ; that they 
were mortified and angry, and would do anything consist- 
ent with propriety and principle for our benefit. This is 
the temper of our friends, and an entire proscription of the 
course of our enemies, — i. e. the Jackson men. Van Bu- 
ren of New York is the master spring of all the mischief, 
though working entirely under ground. Party spirit is 
now fiery hot, and will increase every day. We have never 
been so much aware of it, not even in war and embargo 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 195 

times, as it has severed the most intimate links of friendship 
and good-will. Mr. S., among our other old acquaintances 
is decidedly inimical to our interests, his high collective 
and individual eulogium to the contrary notwithstanding. 
This morning the line is distinctly drawn for the first time 
in the Intelligencer, and was unavoidable. It will make 
some of the Senators a leetle uneasy in their relative jour- 
neys home ; but you have no conception to what lengths 
they went in other things, as well as the sacrifice of old 
friends. General Barringer appears to be unsettled, if not 
entirely changed, in his political opinions, and abused the 
factions here, and eulogized Daniel Webster in a strain that 
would have been music to the ear of our friend Lewis Wil- 
liams, in the last evening he spent with me. I say me, be- 
cause, in sooth, William turns all this kind of visitors over 
to me in fee simple, if he should chance to be in the house, 
which at this exciting and busy season he has rarely been 
until near midnight. On parting, the General expressed 
much fear of not coming again, and hoped that Weston would 
vote this year, and that father would not vote against him. 
He was fiery red-hot for Jackson when he came, and quite 
the reverse when he went away. You will see that our 
friend McLean, Postmaster-General, is always exempted 
from crime or the imputation of crime, in the sweeping 
denunciations against the cabinet in one of the city Gazettes. 
Mr. McLean is a worthy man we think, though led away 

by partialities Colonel John Williams is here, and 

as usual spends all his leisure time with us. He returns 
in a few days to Tennessee, to hard work at the law, being 
compelled to bend to the fury of the storm, and leave 
public life until a more tolerant spirit shall prevail, as Gen- 
eral Jackson and he divide the State, but, unfortunately for 
him, not equally. In our opinion, General Jackson is in- 
finitely superior in magnanimity and other good qualities 



196 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

to his friends. They are outrageous, and would willingly 
trample under foot and massacre all who do not bow the 
knee to Baal 

" Mrs. Governor Barbour has just called in her carriage 
on her way to Virginia, to entreat and so strenuously 
insist on my visiting her for a few weeks, and accompany- 
ing the Governor and herself to the White and Warm Sul- 
phur and Bedford Springs, that I could not avoid, without 
appearing insensible to such urgent kindness, saying that 
I would consider of it. She says that if William cannot 
leave Washington, her husband shall come for me, and we 
can arrange under their roof our plans, which she certainly 
painted in pleasant colors, if I could feel interested in 
paying a visit anywhere unaccompanied by all my chil- 
dren 

" Our friend Swift, you see, has sunk under the storm, 
and his family must be the* sufferers from his indiscretion, 
for of nothing more, we are certain, could he be found 
guilty. We were surprised and glad yesterday to see him 
alight at our door from New York. He is utterly in the 
dark as to the cause of his dismissal, but supposes it the 
result of party feelings, as he was always devoted heart 
and soul to Mr. Calhoun, and needed prudence in the ex- 
pression of his prepossession. We felt affected at seeing 
him a bankrupt in fortune, and that he asserts to be the 

least bitter of his trials He fears that his good 

name may suffer by being superseded at this moment. He 
and his excellent wife have suffered much in a short period, 
their eldest child, a lovely girl, having died during his trial. 
You wilj be interested in this, as I know how much you 

liked him With William's and my own united love 

to yourself and our honored father, 

" Your dutiful and affectionate daughter, 

"Sarah Seatox." 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 197 

The domestic affliction to which Mrs. Seaton alludes 
was the sudden death of a lovely son of six years, 
interesting in all promise of character, beautiful and 
engaging in person, who was brought home from his 
morning canter on his pony, dragging at the stirrup, 
fatally injured, lingering on earth but a few hours. 
This blow, so cruel to the parents, was one of the 
many which Mr. and Mrs. Seaton were called to endure 
through their long life, and which — in the simple 
faith and resignation to the Divine Will, the added 
tenderness of the tie uniting them to each other and 
to those remaining to their love and care, wrought for 
them through the chastening — seemed to bring still 
nearer to perfection the Christian graces that crowned 
their character. -^ 

Joseph Gardner Swift, born in Massachusetts, 1783, 
was a civil and military engineer of great distinction 
in the United States service. In 1807 he was ap- 
pointed to the command of the Academy at West 
Point, of which school of brilliant soldiers he had 
been, in 1802, the first graduate. He succeeded Colo- 
nel Jonathan Williams as chief of the corps of topo- 
graphical engineers, distinguishing himself highly in 
the war of 1812, especially in the defence of New 
York, for which grateful services that city paid him 
various flattering marks of approval and thanks. The 
work for which he will be specially remembered was 
the skilful and ingenious construction of the railroad 
from New Orleans to Lake Pontchartrain through an 
unfathomable swamp, the rails of which he laid on the 
mass of fossil shell remains found in the depths of the 
morass ; and of this shell debris he also formed the 



198 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

famous " shell road," now the favorite drive near ISTew 
Orleans. 

General Swift was possessed of unusual scientific 
and literary attainment; was charming in manners, 
genial in temper, strong in domestic and social affec- 
tions, an excellent art critic, a devotee to music, sing- 
ing an admirable song in a rich bass voice, and a keen 
sportsman. From early years a friendship had sub- 
sisted" between himself and Mr. Seaton, congenial in 
so many points of taste and tone of character, which 
matured in middle age to the intimate affection that 
lasted to the end of life ; and of which the following 
note is one of the many similar pleasant records pre- 
served in the family. 

" Geneva, March, 1848. 

"Very dear Friend Seaton, — Thomas March, Esq., of 
Brooklyn, has proposed an excursion to the south side of 
Long Island, early in May, to renew, as we sexagenarians 
may, the joy of days gone by. He, Major Tucker, and myself 
hope you will smoke a pipe with our party of four. I am 
mournfully aware of the inevitable relation that subsists 
between Congress and the Intelligencer, and especially 
now in these piping times of prospective peace, that may 
run debate into summer. But we hope that the speed of 
the political car may allow you to dip a line into this water, 
and help us to broil a trout a la Colonel Hawkins. So 
think well of this bid to the reel Mrs. Swift's re- 
spects to Mrs. Seaton, and mine also. 

" Ever yours, 

" J. G. Swift. 
"Hon. W. W. Seaton." 

In 1818 General Swift resigned his commission in 
the army, as did other officers, from dissatisfaction and 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 199 

wounded pride at the appointment by President Mon- 
roe of General Bernard to the charge of the coast 
defences. This de facto supersedure, by a foreigner, of 
General Swift in the position in which he had earned 
such distinction created naturally a strong feeling of 
resentment throughout the army, so sensitively gen- 
erous in its esprit de corps. Subsequently, General 
Swift's actions were subjected to the crucible of polit- 
ical misrepresentation, from which they emerged unal- 
loyed metal ; and it was to that persecution that Mrs. 
Seaton referred in her letter, and of which General 
Swift so clearly disposes in the following note : — 

" February 18, 1827. 
" Dear Seaton, — My name appears with no good ob- 
ject or aspect in the congressional matter of the 9th inst. 
Mr. Forsyth calls up the uncandid Report on the Mobile 
Fort, and enters an extract therefrom on the Journals of 
the House of Representatives, for the use or abuse of pos- 
terity. That report — falsely and in my opinion inten- 
tionally to injure — asserts that I, as United States Agent, 
was to divide a profit with Mr. T. and others ! The facts : 
In May, 1818, I, as United States Agent, contracted with 
B. W. Hopkins to build the Mobile Fort. In November, 
1818, I resigned my army commission and of course agen- 
cy. In August, 1819, B. W. Hopkins dies of yellow-fever 
at his work. In 1820 the executor sells B. W. H.'s con- 
tract to Colonel Hawkins, who comes to me and offers me 
one fourth of the profits for my advice and instructions as 
engineer how to execute his work. I agree to give them. 
Am I in this any species of United States Agent, or in 
any manner or degree censurable 1 Think a moment on 
the object and effect of these cuts and thrusts, and think 
on the humiliating truth that nobody cares for any attempt 



200 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

to justify % So much does love of detraction overbalance 
inclination to render justice. Compare the eager reading 
of an accusation with the apathy which a refutation ex- 
cites ! It is quite probable that Mr. Forsyth's extract may 
be republished or referred to, to prove that I am — any- 
thing. I had thought that the asperity of political feeling 
on the Presidential question had long subsided, so far as it 

related to persons not filling prominent places 

" As ever, your friend, 

"J. G. Swift. 
"W.. W. Seaton, Esq." 

General Simon Bernard, born at Dole, France, in 
1779, was one of the many illustrations of the distinc- 
tion achieved in the French service by unassisted merit. 
He was educated by charity at the famous Polytechnic 
school, to which he was making his way on foot, when, 
overcome by cold and starvation, he would have per- 
ished on the road but for the succor afforded by a poor 
woman, who gave him shelter and saw him safely to 
his destination. The boy soon showed unusual talent, 
fostered by such masters in military science as La- 
place and Monge ; and, winning the position of second 
lieutenant of engineers, served on the Pihine, under 
Napoleon, by whom he was promoted to a captaincy. 
The Emperor, eagle-eyed to discern capacity, and quick 
to employ it, confided to the young officer an important 
commission, rewarding his success in its fulfilment by 
a coveted appointment to his staff. During the " hun- 
dred days," General Bernard was placed at the head 
of the Topographical Bureau, and after Waterloo came 
to this country with a high reputation and strong let- 
ters from Lafayette. His appointment as Engineer 
in Chief of the United States Army, although certain- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 201 

ly an injustice to our native talent, and an undeserved 
slight to the distinguished Swift, was not without good 
fruit ; and the able Frenchman rendered good service 
to the" country in his military capacity, one of the best 
known monuments of his skill being Fortress Monroe. 
After the " three days of July," he returned to France, 
where he was received with honor and high preferment, 
being appointed Aide-de-Camp to Louis Philippe, and 
subsequently Lieutenant-General of Engineers, and 
Minister of War, remaining in office until the downfall 
of the Ministry in 1837. In 1839 he closed his varied 
and honorable career. During his fifteen years' service 
under the United States government he won, together 
with his interesting and amiable wife and daughters, the 
esteem and affection of the society of Washington, the 
relations of himself and family being especially intimate 
with Mr. and Mrs. Seaton, in whose home, graced by 
refined intelligence and open hospitality, strangers, 
during half a century, found a welcome atmosphere 
of kindness and congeniality. When, at Louis Phil- 
ippe's accession, General Bernard returned finally to 
France, his departure was the signal for many part- 
ing compliments and testimonials of regard from the 
citizens to the worthy Frenchman; and it was on 
one of these occasions that the honored guest paid 
a graceful tribute to the virtues of Mrs. Seaton, the. 
scene being thus described by one who was privi- 
leged to be present: — 

"At a large dinner at the hospitable mansion of Eck- 
ington, after the dessert was served and the guest had 
been toasted, and had replied in warm terms of gratitude 
and respect to our country, he was called on for a toast, 

9* L 



202 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

and rising said : ' I will give you, gentlemen, a sentiment 
which will be echoed in the hearts of all present, as it 
would be by the society of Washington and all the good 
and great of foreign courts who have resided in this city, 
— I give you, gentlemen, Madame Seaton, the accom- 
plished lady, wife, and mother.' 

"Edward Livingston, then Secretary of State, immedi- 
ately rose and said : ' He would relieve his friend, Mr. 
Seaton, and also their friends, Mr. and Mrs. Gales (the 
hosts), from the embarrassment of acknowledging this per- 
sonal compliment, so beautiful, so just, and in such accord 
with the feelings of all present, by taking the pleasure of 
that task on himself, on his own behalf and that of his 
family.' He then proceeded in a strain of delicate and 
exalted eulogy of Mrs. Seaton, which called forth a burst 
of applause from the distinguished company present." 

"Washington, December, 1830. 
"General Bernard has the honor to present all his re- 
spects to Mr. Seaton, and to inform him that, having 
obtained a furlough to visit Europe, he will do himself the 
honor to call on Mr. Seaton to receive his commands for 
France. General Bernard has just received the enclosed 
article relating to the American claims from the Constitu- 
tionnel, transmitted to him from General Lafayette, whose 
desire was that the article should be known to the Ameri- 
can public. 

" Very respectfully, 

" Bernard." 

It was during this absence, thus announced, that 
the General visited his native town of Dole, where 
a triumphant reception awaited the once penniless 
boy, now the renowned soldier who conferred honor 
by his presence. This interesting incident is alluded 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 203 

to by M. Poussin, — also a Frenchman, who won high 
position, professional and diplomatic, in the new 
Kepublic, — in the following note to Mr. Seaton : — 

"May 14, 1831. 

" Dear Sir, — You will no doubt learn with pleasure 
that this excellent man, General Bernard, who has resided 
so long among us as to be considered as one of our most 
distinguished officers, is about to return to his adopted 
country to resume his highly useful occupations as an 
engineer. Previous to leaving his country the General 
visited his aged father residing in his native town, of 
which occasion the National makes the following men- 
tion : — 

" They write to us from Dole (department of Jura, 
Franche-Comt6), — ' The arrival in our town of the brave 
General Bernard of the engineers, who has come to us after 
an absence of fifteen years, has been the occasion of a pa- 
triotic celebration. The National Guard, the Sappers, Fire- 
men, the Artillery with a band of musicians at their head, 
marched spontaneously to meet and greet this worthy citi- 
zen.' 

" General Bernard begs to be particularly remembered 
to you and your family. 

" Most sincerely yours, 

" W. T. Poussin." 

William Tell Poussin, a young French engineer, 
came to this country with letters of introduction 
from Lafayette, commending his professional abilities 
to our government, by whom he was employed in 
various works of engineering, in which he showed 
undoubted skill. Possessed of talent and many amia- 
ble traits of character, he won the esteem of officials 
and society ; and when the French government ap- 



204 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

pointed him Minister to the United States, the 
deserved promotion met with signal approbation. 

M. Poussin continued to represent France until a 
change of ministry recalled him home, "being, however, 
reappointed to the same honorable post during the 
Presidency of the Emperor Napoleon III. He was 
kind-hearted, and gratefully devoted to those who 
showed him friendship ; to Mr. Seaton, especially, tes- 
tifying an almost filial affection. "I was blind," he 
used to say, " and Mr. Seaton made me to see ; dumb, 
and he made me to speak; a stranger, and he gave 
me home." 

Unfortunately, his native impulsiveness had not 
been calmed down in the reticent school of diplomacy, 
and betrayed him finally into an indecorous warmth 
of correspondence with the State Department, which 
eventuated in his virtual dismissal from our shores ; 
the second occasion in the history of our government, 
on which a want of the respect due from a foreign 
minister in his official intercourse had resulted in the 
presentation of his passports to the offending digni- 
tary. 

The circumstances attending the cessation of ML 
Poussin's diplomatic relations with this country, were 
in substance as follows : — 

While Mr. Clayton was Secretary of State, he re- 
ceived from M. Poussin a note calling the attention 
of the department to the case of a French resident in 
Mexico, on whose behalf he desired to appeal from the 
sentence of a military court held previously at Puebla, 
by which the Frenchman had suffered in property. 
After careful investigation into the merits of the 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 205 

case, Mr. Clayton was unable to perceive any legal 
or equitable grounds for reversing the decision of 
the tribunal, and so he courteously informed the 
Trench Minister. To this communication on the 
part of the Secretary M. Poussin replied in a very 
acrimonious note, in which he impugned the in- 
tegrity of the Court, and more particularly the 
evidence of Colonel Churchill. To this rude note 
Mr. Clayton, impelled by courtesy and official consid- 
eration for M. Poussin, replied, although his first note 
to the Minister, sustaining the decision of the Court, 
was a finality, beyond which he was not really bound 
to take further action. After defending Colonel Chur- 
chill from the aspersions of M. Poussin, and adducing 
in his favor the approval of General Scott, Mr. Clay- 
ton proceeded to controvert, in the most respectful 
manner, some of the positions assumed by M. Poussin. 
This drew from M. Poussin a communication so dis- 
respectful and intemperate in language, so insulting in 
its tenor towards the government of the United States, 
that Mr. Clayton was compelled to lay it personally 
before the President, in obedience to whose directions 
the Secretary of State informed M. Poussin that 
thenceforth the government of the United States 
must decline to recognize him as the representative 
of France. The French government was promptly 
informed of our action in the premises, the polite 
suggestion being made, that every facility for M. 
Poussin's departure would be afforded him, whenever 
he should be pleased to make known his desire to 
return to France. 

M. Poussin's last insulting note was dated Washing- 



206 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

ton, although he was in New York at the time it was 
written. Mr. Clayton politely requested his prompt 
appearance at Washington, to afford him an oppor- 
tunity of retracting the objectionable language; but 
no retraction or explanation was ever made, and the 
French government seemed for a while to sustain the 
action of its representative, characterizing Mr. Clay- 
ton's note as "an imperious summons." 

The intercourse of the French government with Mr. 
Rives, the United States Minister, was interrupted by 
a refusal to receive him at Court, which action Mr. 
Clayton met by instructions to Mr. Rives to discon- 
tinue his relations with the French government should 
his exclusion be persisted in, or any explanation be 
demanded prior to his reception at Court. Our gov- 
ernment, added Mr. Clayton in his able despatch to 
Mr. Rives, was the sole guardian of its honor and dig- 
nity, and would, in its estimate of what was disrespect- 
ful and insulting, submit to no judgment save its own ; 
and in like manner the government of France was at 
perfect liberty to act in any manner consistent with 
its own ideas of dignity. This Mr. Clayton expressed 
with an aptness and propriety that elevated it above 
the range of retort. 

The following is one among the numerous letters 
addressed to Mr. Seaton during many years by the 
impulsive, warm-hearted Frenchman. 

"No. 2 Rue de la Ferme des Mathtrins. 
Paris, 28th March, 1832. 

" Dear Sir, — I long wished to inform you in what part 
of the old continent I were, and that amidst the multi- 
plicity of attractions the two rival metropolis, London and 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 207 

Paris, offered to a pilgrim from the New World, I were not 
unmindful of my friends, and of none less so than the grate- 
fully remembered members of your amiable family. I have 
been constantly in the hope of hearing some gratifying 
news which I could send you relative to our dear and wor- 
thy friend, the good General Bernard. As yet, nothing is 
done ; hope we have, however, that ere long that profoundly 
scientific and useful man will at last be in position to con- 
tribute something towards the improvement of this Old 
Society. 

"I had 17 days only to Liverpool, and a most de- 
lightful trip over. I travelled through North and South 
Wales, and some of the most famous and beautiful English 
counties ; but English weather growing too intolerable even 
for a Franco-American to bear, I decided on leaving John 
Bull, and arrived in the gay metropolis of the French in 
March. T was much pleased indeed with Old England, highly 
gratified, greatly amused and benefited by the journey, dur- 
ing which I met with many courteous and hospitable recep- 
tion. Having good letters of introduction, I found myself 
quite at home in the drawing-rooms of the gentry and nobil- 
ity. My name, (Poussin, should you have forgotten that I 
am a true lineal descendant of that eminent painter !) my 
profession, and my character of an American smoothed down 
all asperities and strong English prejudice. My task was 
one of the most pleasing of narrating the wonderful achieve- 
ments of civilization in America ; and such eyes ! and such 
wonders ! at all which I would say touching the state of 
our society ! ! Never in my life have I met with so igno- 
rant people respecting the possibility of the existence of 
another society as much advanced and refined as theirs, to 
say the least ; and that in America, that savage country to 
the saying of Basil Hall & Co. ! ! By the way, I met one 
day with this truly John Bull at a meeting of the Royal 



208 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

Society. 'Ah! is that you? I thought you could not 
long live amongst those Yankies.' ' No ! ' said I, ' that is 
the reason I am just going back, for I have found nothing 
as yet so much to my taste as Yankie habits and laws.' 
And there we parted, neither foe nor friend ; for 'pon my 
soul ! I would not be either. I found scientific men more 
liberal ; indeed, these are of no country. John Bull, Johnny 
Crapeau, and Brother Jonathan all agree well when they 
have this freemasonry to cement them. Take this away, 
and ' Sacre bleu ! ! God dem, fios bif, Soupe maigre, and 
"molasses and water" ' are the best epithets they have for 
each other. The civil engineers assisted me to witness 
and explain the mechanical wonders of that immense work- 
shop, as it has been aptly styled. In the paths of science 
France bears the palm, but in the useful though more 
humble task of applying the light of modern science to the 
wants and uses of man, England and our own United States 
will dispute the prize with the combined world. I think the 
experience of time w T ill establish the fact, that the inventive 
genius of America can bear more than a successful compar- 
ison with all other countries. Stevens and others prove 
the fact as to its application to boats, and when locomo- 
tives become familiar there it cannot remain a doubt that 
the Americans will contribute to the improvement of this 
new mode of land travel in a commensurate manner with 
that of steamboats. 

" France has remained much behind either nation in the 
application of this new power. No country is more in need 
of improved communication, and should peace be main- 
tained, public confidence restored, she will take an aston- 
ishing start in industry. All elements of prosperity exist 
within France, only let her get out of this terrible incer- 
tainty, and she will again be La belle et grande France. I 
speak like an American who knows France, and not from 
the blood which runs through my veins. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 209 

" The venerable General Lafayette is in perfect health, 
and happy in the settlement of his children. His devoted 
son is well. Our excellent General Bernard very well, his 
dear family also, and regretting much America and our 
Washington friends. You have no doubt seen the noble and 
generous part he took in common with our distinguished 
novelist, Cooper, to sustain the excellence of American legis- 
lations, in comparison with the elaborated and purposely 
perplexed administration of the French. The excellent 
General proved beyond all doubt that ' an American pays 
his personal tax with the labor of less than four days' work ; 
whereas the Frenchman must work twelve days to pay his ! ' 

•'We expect Mr. Van Buren here from London on the 
Gth April, on his way to the United States, by Havre. 

" Mr. Rives speaks of returning home in the autumn. 

" Pray to remember me most particularly to Mrs. Seat on, 
Mrs. Gales, and her worthy husband, to your good neigh- 
bor, M. St. Clair Clark and his lady ; and never doubt the 
sentiments of lasting regards and friendship of your obliged 
and devoted friend and servant, 

" W. T. Poussin, Major U. S. Top. Engs. 

" To W. W. Seaton, Esquire." 

With the advent of Jacksonism was inaugurated 
proscription for opinion's sake, and a state of party 
hostility ensued which not only strictly separated 
political opponents, but pervaded social relations and 
severed friendly ties. It was indeed a dark era in the 
hitherto aristocratic circles of the capital, which had 
been characterized by elegance of manners and the 
charm of high-breeding : but now came upon the aston- 
ished and exclusive citizens the reign of the "masses." 
Notwithstanding, however, the extreme bitterness of 
party spirit ruling political and social events during 



210 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

this " reign of terror," General Jackson himself had the 
power of appreciating the talent, dignity of character, 
or individual influence to be found in the ranks of 
the opposition ; and with the sagacity characterizing a 
great general, appropriated to his own service what- 
ever in the enemy's camp could enhance the reputa- 
tion of his administration or subserve his ends. Bitter, 
therefore, as was the war between the Intelligencer 
and the President, the latter respected the editors of 
that powerful journal, their virtues and abilities, and 
deprecated their censure ; magnanimously manifesting 
his sense of Mr. Seaton's position in the community 
and high personal qualities, by appointing him one of 
the Visitors to West Point. 

A short time preceding the inauguration of General 
Jackson, Mr. Eobert Little, the eloquent Unitarian 
pastor, preached a remarkable sermon, the text of 
which was : " When Christ drew near the city he wept 
over it." Thirty-eight years afterwards, Mr. Seaton 
spoke of this effort as " a grand sermon, depicting with 
prophetic force the evil effects of General Jackson's 
election, — that triumph of demagoguism, ignorance, 
and radicalism in its worst form, which then deluged 
the country, defeating Adams, sweeping away Conserva- 
tive and Tory, gentlemen, and the highest standard of 
honor, in the tide of unlettered, unmannered vulgarity, 
from which the country has not recovered ; whose fruits 
are still beheld in this second upheaval of society, 
when the refined, the wise, must retreat before the 
untutored empirics who sit in the places of the giants 
of our Eepublic." 

The amazing contrast between the stately dignity 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 211 

attending the induction into office of the earlier Pres- 
idents, and the scenes occurring at the inauguration 
of the " Hero of the People/' is vividly portrayed by 
Mrs. Samuel Harrison Smith, whose sketch graphically 
presents the new order of things, which saddened and 
terrified the circles accustomed to the elegant decorum 
of previous ceremonies. 

Mrs. Smith was a lady of unusual intellect and cul- 
tivated literary tastes, whose active pen painted numer- 
ous sprightly and characteristic pictures of Washington 
society in the days of Jefferson and Madison ; whose 
charming conversational gift and benevolence of heart 
won the affection of all who came within their in- 
fluence, and whose hospitable home was the resort of 
all who were distinguished for talent or worth. 

" When the President's address was concluded," thus 
proceeds Mrs. Smith's account, " the barricades gave 
way before the multitude, who forced a passage to 
shake hands with the choice of the people. General 
Jackson mounted his horse, having walked to the Capi- 
tol, and then such a cortege followed ! Countrymen, 
laborers, — white and black, — carriages, wagons, and 
carts, all pursuing him to the President's house. .... 
The closing scene was in disgusting contrast with the 
simplicity of the impressive drama of the inaugural oath ! 
- The President was literally pursued by a motley con- 
course of people, riding, running helter-skelter, striv- 
ing who should first gain admittance into the Executive 
mansion, where it was understood that refreshments 
were to be distributed. The halls were filled with a 
disorderly rabble of negroes, boys, women, and children 
scrambling for the refreshments designed for the draw- 



212 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

ing-rooms ! the people forcing their way into the 
saloons, mingling with the foreigners and citizens sur- 
rounding the President. .• . . . China and glass to the 
amount of several thousand dollars were broken in 
the struggle to get at the ices and cakes, though 
punch and other drinkables had been carried out in 
tubs and buckets to the people ; but had it been in 
hogsheads it would have been insufficient besides un- 
satisfactory to the mob, who claimed equality in all 

things The confusion became more and more 

appalling. At one moment the President, who had 
retreated until he was pressed against the wall of the 
apartment, could only be secured against serious dan- 
ger by a number of gentlemen linking arms and form- 
ing themselves into a barrier. It was then that the 
windows were thrown open and the living torrent 

found an outlet It was the People's day, the 

People's President, and the People would rule I" 

The policy of rotation in office and party proscrip- 
tion, inaugurated by General Jackson, is interestingly 
discussed in the following letter from Mr. Eichard Bush, 
who speaks as one having authority. This distinguished 
statesman and diplomatist, whose career is familiar 
to«every intelligent American, who filled with honor to 
himself and country the positions of Attorney-General, 
Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Minister 
to France and to England, was noted for his elegance 
of manner and high-breeding, his charming conversa- 
tion, replete with instructive and fascinating reminis- 
cences, a tact and vivacity somewhat French, and the 
finished grace acquired by so long a residence at Courts, 
in the days when diplomacy was a high art, even sci- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 213 

ence, — when the partition of empires and the over- 
throw of kingdoms hinged perhaps on the success of 
an ambassadorial banquet, a Ion mot over the snuff-box, 
or a game of whist, the players being Castlereagh and 
Talleyrand, a Canning or a Metternieh, who, with their 
cards, dealt out crowns for trumps. Mr. Eush was 
very successful in his negotiation of several treaties 
with England, especially the important one of 1818, 
with Lord Castlereagh, relative to the fisheries and our 
Northwestern Boundary. And it was said, that only 
by the influence of his personal qualities and the 
friendship entertained for him by the British Cabinet, 
was a war averted with England, then imminent in 
consequence of General Jackson's execution of two 
British subjects, with his usual defiance of constitu-' 
tional law and international comity ; being guided by 
the rashness of conceited ignorance, not enlightened 
courage. 

"Sydenham near Philadelphia, September 30, 1853. 

" Dear Sirs, — A short absence over in Jersey has pre- 
vented a more prompt answer to your letter, but I take the 
first chance opening to me since my return to enclose a 

little notice of Mr. Trescot's letter You could have 

done it yourselves much better. What I say of his secre- 
taryship at London, Mr. Everett himself told me the day I 
dined there last winter, when you, Mr. Seaton, were there. 
After you have published this, his diplomatic-reform letter, I 
may possibly be led to make it the occasion of some remarks 
on our whole diplomatic system, though I rather fear not ; 
they would be so revolutionary ; not radical, however. 

" I should go against all turnings out of our foreign minis- 
ters or consuls, except for downright misbehavior or inca- 
pacity, and could give, as I almost dare to persuade myself, 



214 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

sufficient and solid reasons for adopting that course, or 
rather coming back to it, for we had it in effect formerly. 
The opposite course is intrinsically unwise. It has done 
mischief, will continue to do it, and finally produce results 
entangling and disgraceful to us. But our public have got 
so thoroughly wrong-headed about the necessity of each 
new President choosing his own foreign ministers, that 
an elementary discussion would be required to bring back 
right thoughts, if even that could ever in the least be 
hoped for. You Whigs are as bad as we Democrats, each 
side growing worse with time, in this battle for the spoils 
as the four years come round ; so that the subject would 
be ticklish and staggering, though not unmanageable, if 
resolutely taken up. "Washington even thought that there 
was no need of choosing the heads of department on 
party grounds. He put Jefferson at the head of one, and 
Hamilton of another, when parties were more distinctly 
marked on principle than now, or have ever been since his 
day. Jackson advised Mr. Monroe to call to his adminis- 
tration two Republicans or Democrats and two Federalists, 
the latter name still existing in his time. Washington's prac- 
tice and Jackson's theory were right, under the true theory 
of our government. The very idea of a cabinet is out of 
place with us, and the notion that it should be a unit still 
more so. This is for constitutional monarchies, where 
ministers, not the monarch, are responsible, but it has no 
legal or constitutional existence here. The very term cab- 
inet is of party coinage. The republicans of '98 com- 
plained of it as monarchical, as the old columns of the 
Philadelphia Aurora might show if searched. 

" The utmost with us is, that the President may, if he 
choose, require the opinion in writing of any one of his 
officers ; but all are to do their duty under his direction. 

" Yet we have arrived at a code of universal partisan pro- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 215 

scription, which each party seems equally to approve and 
practise, under a supposed necessity that every new Presi- 
dent is morally and wisely, if not politically, bound to em- 
ploy as officers from A to Z, abroad and at home, those 
only who hold his own opinions ! This now established 
practice of universal change every four years, and the ter- 
rible contests and corruptions to which it will give birth 
in our presidential elections, the ratio of each increasing, 
geometrically, as offices and emoluments grow more nu- 
merous and tempting under the prodigious growth of our 
country, must end in breaking the government to pieces. 
So it is that the choice of the Chief Magistrate has ever 
been the great test of popular government. Thus much I 
have been incited to say in thinking of Mr. Trescot's vain 
hope of bringing about permanent appointments in our 
diplomatic service I did not intend to let Septem- 
ber run out without thanking you, as now let me do, for 
your acceptable favor, No. 1654 of the Intelligencer, and 
your more curious number eight, as certainly it is. I will 
bring the latter safely with me to Washington, where I shall 
probably be, on Smithsonian business, before January comes 
round. I do not quite like to trust the precious little relic 
to the mail a second time. In the Intelligencer of Septem- 
ber 3d I read Randolph's old unpublished speech against 
the war, with unusual avidity, for the sake of calling up old 
matters ; and the more, as I heard it in part. The fifth 
paragraph, a short one of five lines, should end with the 
word pity, I think. That sentence struck upon my ear 
from the threefold alliteration. * I ask its (the House's) 
patience, its pardon, and its pity.'' What says Mr. Gales's 
short-hand manuscript, which I also remember when it was 
1 solitary and alone ' 1 It would be odd if that third little 
word was in the speech, as delivered, and struck out after- 
wards ! I consider the notes appended to the speech as 



216 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

better than the speech itself. I did not think as much as 
others of Randolph's genius, and liked his character still 
less. There was too much malignity about him, for me, and 
pretension. The note about Mr. Monroe is all true, as I 
could abundantly confirm, in many things. He was the 
main propeller of the war in the executive councils, and its 
main prop there afterwards And now in conclud- 
ing, I pray you to believe me in old friendship and esteem, 
" Yours ever very faithfully, 

"Richard Rush." 

The Monrpe doctrine, which, fifty years ago, as Mr. 
Rush in the following note says, " surprised " European 
diplomacy, again agitates and controls the policy of a 
continent, and by its tyrannous " law of force " precip- 
itated and sheltered the mournful Mexican tragedy, 
over which the civilized world still shudders and 
weeps, — the murder of the gallant Maximilian, the 
madness of a widowed Empress. 

" Philadelphia, 22d March, 1857. 
" My dear Sir, — I remember the Mr. Stapleton who 
signs the enclosed slip from the Albion. He was Canning's 
private secretary in the days of my negotiations, and a very 
clever man he was. He is right in what he says. Mr. 
Canning did, explicitly and repeatedly, deny the ' Monroe 
Doctrine.' He denied it in a solemn protocol, and other- 
wise, in my negotiation of 1824, he being then Foreign 
Secretary of England. Russia denied it, as did France. 
You may say all Europe was surprised at it. They could 
not comprehend it, except as a threat, and holding up the 
law of force as soon as we were able. This may be plainly 
enough seen in the second volume of the work, ' Residence 
at the Court of London,' which I published in 1845, a copy 
of which I understand is in the Congress Library. I refer 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 217 

you to it only as presenting the matter in a nutshell, in 
place of hunting through public documents, should you 
wish to see the record of it. Stapleton wrote the ' Politi- 
cal Life of Canning,' in three volumes, which I have, but 
not at hand, as I am staying with a son in town. In one 
of the volumes you will find the account of the part Mr. 
Canning took in that whole Spanish-American question, 
when the European Alliance was for falling foul of the 
Spanish Colonies. 

" Ever yours faithfully, 

"Richard Rush. 
"Mr. Seaton." 

In the summer of 1834 Mrs. Seaton writes to a 
member of her family : — 

" . . . . During the past two days we have been in an 
alarming state of disorder from a dread of insurrection, or 
rather a dread of the illegal hanging of instigators to mis- 
chief. A white man was put in jail a few days since on 
the charge of circulating incendiary pamphlets. This was 
the beginning of the disturbance. Mobs have collected 
to break open the jail, and hang him without trial. Ma- 
rines are stationed in and around the jail, but there is great 
apprehension felt, the soldiers from Point Comfort having 
gone to Baltimore, so that we have no means of suppressing 
the riot. Snow will certainly be torn to pieces by the me- 
chanics if he be caught, and they are in full pursuit of 
him. Unfortunately, several hundred mechanics of the 
navy yard are out of employment, who, aided and abetted 
by their sympathizers, create the mob, — the first I have 
ever seen, not recollecting those of Sheffield, and it is truly 
alarming. I tremble for the consequences of any encoun- 
ter with mistaken, infuriated men who have set the laws at 
defiance, and must now be put down by force. The post- 
office is guarded, but they threaten the Mayor ; and you 
10 



218 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

will understand all my fears when I tell you that your dear 
father has been out during the last two nights, exerting his 
influence to quell the storm. We have only a handful of 
troops here, but a company from Annapolis is expected to- 
night. Last night the rain poured heavily, and probably 
prevented much mischief, though we hope that the elements 
of disturbance are somewhat quieted. General Jackson 
arrives to-morrow and will be prompt to suppress all disor- 
ders Midnight. Your father has just returned 

home, and reports that all is tranquil." 

This man Snow was a mulatto, at the very head of 
the respectable colored population, keeping a restau- 
rant much frequented by the good society of Washing- 
ton. It being reported that he had spoken disrespect- 
fully of the wives of the mechanics as a class, using 
very coarse and insulting language with regard to their 
virtue, a mob, a white mob ensued, and the city during 
several days and nights was at its mercy. All the 
gentlemen of the city protected Snow so far as they 
could, not believing him guilty, and even had such 
been the case they were the friends of law and order, 
and willing that Snow should be dealt with accord- 
ingly, but not by the hands of Judge Lynch. Mr. 
Seaton was not mayor, but of course was called on for 
aid and counsel ; for none ever lived who could offer 
more prompt service and wiser words, and he possessed 
pre-eminently the qualities to guide a popular storm, — 
mildness, reason, and decision. In this instance it was 
mainly through his personal efforts that order was 
restored, through the respect with which the people 
regarded him, and the unflinching courage with which, 
bareheaded and unarmed, he threw himself into the 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 219 

midst of the mob, controlling by his presence, and the 
undaunted bearing that finds a responsive chord in the 
heart of every really brave man, a crowd of excited, 
maddened men, touched on the most sensitive nerve 
of honor. 

Mr. Seaton had a high esteem for the mechanics of 
Washington, believing that no community possessed a 
more order-loving, intelligent, self-respecting body of 
citizens. He was proud of the confidence of the 
working classes, sympathized in their needs, protected 
their interests, and enjoyed the interchange of thought 
with their practical minds ; his constant, respectful 
kindness to them springing from an appreciation of all 
intrinsic worth and good citizenship, and being, not the 
condescension for an especial object, to obtain their 
suffrages during an election, but the gracious habit of 
his life. "While no man had less of that spurious 
" pride which apes humility," no one more valued the 
honors of an ancient lineage than Mr. Seaton. It was 
indeed a controlling sentiment of his nature ; but a 
citizen of a land where ancestral distinctions and 
privileges are opposed to the spirit of the government 
and people, his perfect taste forbade all vain boast of 
such possession, leading him to cherish it in its true 
sense, as a hostage to the world so to emulate the vir- 
tues of those who had preceded him, that in his hands 
their escutcheon should suffer no stain. 

In 1838 Mrs. Seaton, being in New York, had the 
privilege of once more hearing in the pulpit Dr. Follen, 
the learned, evangelical, and beloved Unitarian, whose 
life, so exquisitely in accordance with the pure and 
lovely truths he taught, was sadly closed by the burn- 



220 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

ing of the steamer Lexington on the Sound, he being 
one of those who perished. Mrs. Pollen was also 
widely known for various valuable works, principally 
on education. 

Mrs. Seaton thus writes of this eminent divine : — 

" . . . . All of our party went to the sea-side this 
morning, as the weather, being a little tempestuous, ren- 
dered it even more desirable to those who have never wit- 
nessed the majesty of the ocean, than a bright, sunny day. 
I, in despite of the uncomfortable morning, found my way 
to Dr. Follen's church. He appeared to better advantage 
personally than when with us. The light came down on 
his guileless countenance from above, and his simple ges- 
tures and earnest eloquence, heightened by the effect thus 
produced, went right to the heart, and I am sure came 
from it. He is scarcely old enough to be called patriarchal, 
but he has the wisdom and fervor of one of the Apostles. 
The music is very unpretending, but soft and sweet, calcu- 
lated, as all church harmony should be, to prepare the mind 
for serious impressions. It was Communion Sunday, and 
Dr. Follen spoke of the mysterious dread experienced by 
many persons of ' eating and drinking unworthily,' and 
cautioned them against entertaining superstitious notions 
of the Eucharist. ' What ! ' said he, ' is it necessary to 
entitle you to partake of this comforting sacrament that 
you should be able to say, "lam pure in the sight of 
God." " Can any man convict me of sin 1 " " Am I not 
exemplary even as Christ was 1 " No ! my brethren ; 
were this so, few would participate, none dare administer 
it ; this sacred rite would cease. It is intended to en- 
courage us to persevere in that self-sacrificing principle 
which guided our Master on earth, and deserted him not 
in death : to comfort, to console, to encourage us to follow 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 221 

the example of Christ.' I listened with reverence as 'truths 
divine came mended from his tongue,' and accepted Mrs. 
Follen's invitation to go forward with her to the table. 
The ceremony was shorter than with us, but highly impres- 
sive I appointed an hour to receive Dr. and Mrs. 

Foil en, and to accompany them to see Mrs. Jameson, the 
celebrated English authoress, who is now in New York. 

" I did not tell you, I think," continues Mrs. Seaton, 
" that before leaving home I had much gratification in the 
perusal of the journal kept by Mrs. John Quincy Adams 
during her journey to Russia, which, despite the depreca- 
tory toue of her accompanying note, I found interesting 
from the novelty of the scenes described, and the sprightly 
cleverness of this record of her impressions. I had previ- 
ously been indebted to her for the manuscript letters of 
John Adams to his sons, which were so valuable for their 
condensed instruction and parental wisdom that I obtained 
permission to copy them for the benefit of my own 
children." 

The note from Mrs. Adams was as follows : — 

" My dear Madam, — I do not know why I should inflict 
such a penance on you as the reading of my prosy and un- 
interesting detail of a journey which, in itself, yielded little 
to amuse the mind or excite the fancy, although it was 
productive of much unnecessary anxiety, and some serious 
apprehension during a few short but trying hours. Such 
as it is, I offer it to your perusal : and as it was written in 
great haste and without any pretence of literary merit, you 
must be merciful in your judgment, and lenient in your 
criticism of the silly attempts of your friend, 

" Louisa C. Adams. 

"7 May. 
To Mrs. Seaton." 



222 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

" You are welcome, dear Mrs. Seaton, to take copies of 
the papers which I had so much pleasure iu lending you, 
and which I trust will prove a real benefit to your children. 
Early impressions are the most durable, and children in- 
sensibly imbibe principles, which though they may not 
apparently produce any effect, gradually expand the mind, 
and operate most favorably on their future conduct. That 
they may derive all the advantage from these letters which 
your exertions for their improvement so eminently merit 
is the sincere wish of your friend, 

" L. C. Adams. 

" I request you will not hurry the copy." 

Mrs. Seaton's own letters, and those of her husband 
to their children, are in many points unsurpassed even 
by the famous ones of Pitt and the elder Adams : 
but being precluded the gratification of lifting for 
the public the veil of family reserve, a few extracts 
must suffice to show the strength of parental tender- 
ness and wisdom of admonition bestowed by Mr. 
Seaton on his sons, and which are striking as evidences 
of his own delicate, honorable nature. This sentiment 
of honor indeed, fastidious, almost overstrained, being 
the pervading essence of his life, — a religion in its 
sanctity. 

"My dear Son, — .... I was a little mortified at 
what I conceived to be indifference to that virtue, punctu- 
ality, in not reaching West Point on the day ordered, after 
the great indulgence extended to you. It is not enough 
that you escape censure, but you should endeavor to obtain 
approbation from your superiors. But on this head I will 
not dwell further. Parents, from their great anxiety, may 
appear to their children fastidious, and I would not wish 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 223 

to evince an unreasonable sensitiveness at any slight dere- 
liction from rule, and shall, without further admonition, 
leave it to your affection for us and just pride in yourself 
to attain, a high standing. When your steadiness and good 
conduct have been sufficiently manifested to Colonel Thayer 
to pave the way for suoh an application, I will write to him 

on the subject of your promotion Your brother, 

you know, is at Georgetown College, and I feel every day, 
as his mind and qualities develop, a stronger hope that 
he will do well, even distinguish himself. 

" It is in truth a happiness to your mother and myself 
to witness the promise of his opening character ; and more 
happy am I to observe it, for it has pleased Providence to 
afflict her so severely, that I rejoice doubly in the prospect 
she derives of consolation from the good and honorable 
career of her remaining children. That you will yourself, 
my dear son, prove an added source of this comfort to your 
dear and incomparable mother, I ardently hope, and confi- 
dently trust. Remember, my dear son, that we are always 
thinking of you, and every day talking of you. God bless 
you. 

" Your affectionate father, 

" W. W. Seaton." 

" Your letter, my son, has diffused pleasure through the 
family, as it assures us of your determination to labor 

steadily during the two months previous to June 

Do not be lulled into a false security ; if persevering effort 
can insure your going through, do not fail to try your utmost. 
You speak of various novels and romance-writers, as if you 
consumed your precious time in reading them. Pray cast 
aside henceforth everything that can divert your mind 
from the one great object, and resolve to achieve it at 
every sacrifice of ease and amusement. You make us very 
happy by the standing already acquired in your studies. 



224 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

Persevere, my dear son, and add this quality to your amia- 
bility and integrity of character, and you will have the 
felicity of knowing that your parents bless the day of your 
birth, and your excellence will be to them a source of con- 
solation under all the trials which may yet await them. 
.... You have now too many correspondents, and I wish 
that you would write to them less often and with more care. 
You should not have mentioned to any one that young 

H was dismissed. Never spread even confidentially, 

much less voluntarily, anything to the disparagement of an- 
other, especially a friend. It will spread fast enough. You 
meant no harm in this instance, and no one has said a word 
about it ; my remark is spontaneous ; but remember it as 

a hint for the future You have our daily blessings 

and prayers. Take not time to write home more than a 
line, and win the prize of success at all hazards." 

"1834. 
" My dear Son, — .... There is no alternative, with- 
out a show of favoritism, but for you to join your regiment. 
To grant your request, the Secretary thinks would too ob- 
viously savor of making the service bend to personal favor. 
His reasons were fair and rational, and not being able to 
controvert them I was obliged to acquiesce in their just- 
ness. So that we must submit, my son, and, so far from 
repining at the inevitable, must be thankful that you were 

permitted to be so long with us There was a heavy 

blow the day after you sailed, and though perhaps not 
altogether welcome, you had an opportunity of witnessing 
the most sublime of nature's work, — ' the ocean into 
mountains tossed.' .... And now, my dear son, farewell. 
You are fully embarked on the career of life, with no guide 
save your own sense of right, and your own firmness in 
pursuing it. I fervently trust and, hope, I believe, that 
these will be sufficient guides so long as you abstain from 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 225 

two recks on which so many sanguine hopes have been 
wrecked , namely, cards and conviviality. They are sunken 
rocks, not fully discerned till they are struck. The first leads 
to pecuniary embarrassment, then obligation and slavery to 
others, — the second to intemperance and ultimate disgrace. 
I ask of you, my son, a resolution which will preserve you 
through life from sleepless nights and anxious days, at least 
from one of their most prolific causes, — never to incur a 
debt unless it be under the most pressing exigency. A man 
in debt is no longer a freeman ; he loses his erect carriage, 
his mind sinks under the degrading pressure. Cards would 
soon run away with the largest fortune, and are the besetting 
mischief of the young officers of the army, involving them in 
drink and ruin. Under all pressure and persuasion, shun 
touching them as you would dishonor and death. Touch 
them for pastime, and the taste will grow with fearful rapid- 
ity. You may think that I repeat these admonitions unne- 
cessarily often, but, my dear son, if you had seen the num- 
ber whom I have, in thirty years, swept into the vortex by 
these enticing pleasures, and ultimately lost to themselves, 
their families, and society, you would think my anxiety 
natural. Idleness so naturally resorts to amusement, and 
amusements so easily run into excess, that officers in the 
army are peculiarly exposed to danger. These are truths 
of the greatest moment, my son ; keep them in mind, and 
in time to come you will appreciate their value more highly 
than you can do now. But I will not pursue the ungrate- 
ful theme May a gracious Providence preserve and 

direct you, and may you be worthy of that direction, 
prays 

" Your affectionate father, 

"W. W. Seaton." 

Augustine Fitzwhylsson Seaton, the eldest child of 

Mr. and Mrs. Seaton, to whom were addressed these 
10* o 



226 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

striking exhortations to virtue, fulfilled the brightest 
hopes of his parents in all that forms an honored man- 
hood. Rich in talent, inheriting especially his father's 
gift of graceful oratory as well as beauty of presence, 
and possessed of the most endearing traits of charac- 
ter, his gallant young spirit was quenched as its light 
began to brighten the career upon which he had so 
hopefully embarked. After graduating at West Point, 
he was ordered to that charnel-house, Fort Gibson, 
then far beyond the limits of civilization, where with 
so .many other brave hearts his life was sacrificed in 
barren conflicts with savages. During an expedition 
in 1835 against the Indians, far into the wilderness on 
the plains of the Ozark, suffering intense privations, the 
health of this gallant young Seaton gave way, and in 
a few weeks the grave closed over a life of brilliant 
promise. Eespected by his command, beloved by his 
comrades, he died in the discharge of his duty, — a 
soldier's noblest epitaph. 

During the summer of 1838 Mr. Seaton indulged in 
one of the rare holidays of his busy life, in a flying 
jaunt to Canada, joining a quartette of friends who 
dubbed themselves the Pickwick Club, of which Mr. 
Seaton of course personated the benevolent and im- 
mortal President. The respect entertained for Mr. 
Seaton's reputation and character was most agreeably 
evinced in the attentions he received from private 
and official hospitality. The Earl of Durham, then 
Governor-General of Canada, whose political services 
and talent as Mr. Lambton had been rewarded by the 
peerage, and who showed great ability and tact dur- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 227 

ing the alarming complications between England and 
the United States arising from the " Caroline " and 
" McLeod " imbroglio, was of somewhat reserved, even 
haughty demeanor, though of a truly kindly nature, 
and was noted for the high-bred tone of his social 
circle, the charm of which was enhanced by the gentle 
presence and grace of Lady Durham, a daughter of 
,Earl Grey. 

Lord Durham seemed at once to appreciate Mr. 
Seaton's wide intelligence, knowledge of political his- 
tory, and distinction of manners ; expressing subse- 
quently to various persons the opinion that he was 
" the most charming American he had ever met," while 
the acquaintance then formed by Mr. Seaton with 
several civil and military members of his Excellency's 
household ripened into warm regard and frequent 
correspondence. A few extracts from the details 
sketched by Mr. Seaton for the domestic circle will 
indicate the impression made by him on these critical 
foreigners. 

Mr. Seaton writes from "Toronto, July, 1838 " : — 

" .... A run of four hours this morning across Lake 
Ontario brought us to the capital of Upper Canada. I 
begin to be quite anxious to reach the end of our journey, 
for, truth to say, I am quite tired of the jaunt, and would 
gladly turn my face homewards if I were not ashamed. 
.... We crossed over yesterday morning to the British 
side of the Falls, the first time I ever set foot on a foreign 
soil ; and it was not with indifference that I saw the 
British flag flying on its own ground, and surrounded by 
British troops. At the Falls there are about 600 of the 
43d Infantry, and at dinner, who should sit opposite to 



228 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

me but Mr. W , who is here with his regiment. I was 

at first not able to identify his familiar face, he being in 
uniform ; he, however, at once recognized me, and during 
the hour that intervened before my departure he was ex- 
ceedingly civil, among other marks of it tendering me a 
letter to his friend Captain Arthur, the son and Aide to 
the Governor here, as well as letters to some officers of the 
Guards at Quebec. There is a regiment of foot here, which 
I shall see parade to-morrow, Sunday being in camp a grand 
parade day, and shall embrace the opportunity of going to 

church." 

" Ogdensburg, on the St. Lawrence. 

" .... I have got so far on my road to Quebec, and 
through the task which for my sins I undertook of coming 
from home alone on a jaunt of curiosity. Mr. G 's let- 
ter commanded from Captain B , of the Guards, at 

Toronto, very great politeness, as did also Mr. W 's, 

from Captain Arthur. This latter called on me on Sunday, 
though not here a visiting day, and invited me, in his 
father's name, to see him the next day, which I did. Sir 
George Arthur, a fine gentlemanly looking man of sixty, 
received me with much civility, expressing regret that my 
early departure prevented the attentions he would have 
been glad to show me. I spent fifteen minutes with him 
very pleasantly, and went immediately on board the 
steamer, which reached Kingston at sunrise this morning. 
While waiting for the Montreal boat, I have run over here 
to send you this hasty note, with love and blessings for the 
household, and prayers for your safety in my absence." 

" Quebec, August, 1838. 

" . . . . To-night I set out on my most welcome home- 
ward route, — though the two days I have passed here have 
been most agreeably occupied in viewing the fine city, and 
in the enjoyment of kind hospitality On Saturday 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 229 

morning, shortly after my arrival, I received a card of 
invitation to dinner from the Governor-General and the 
Countess of Durham, for four o'clock of the same day, — no 
visiting or company among the English on Sunday, I find. 
There were present about fifteen persons, military and 
official, but no American except myself. After a most 
agreeable dinner, and coffee, his Lordship invited me to 
drive with him ; so I took a seat in the barouche with 
Lord and Lady Durham, and Mr. Charles Buller, to whose 
kind attentions I have been so much indebted. We drove 
eight or nine miles up the beautiful banks of the St. 
Charles, — a good deal of chat of course. The next day I 
went to church alone, my companions declining To- 
day I called to pay my parting respects to the Earl of 
Durham, and, though engaged with a member of the Coun- 
cil (the famous Mr. Turton by the way), he put itiin aside 
to give me an audience ; and so full was he of his official 
objects here, and of our question and delicate relations with 
Great Britain, that I could hardly get away in decent time, 
knowing, as I did, that Turton was waiting to resume his 
business. This afternoon I have spent in visiting the - 
striking works, citadel, etc., under the guidance of one of 
the aides-de-camp, who tendered his services for that purpose 
at Lord Durham's table on Saturday. I have an hour now 
in which to take tea with Mr. Buller, — and then on board 

the boat for Montreal But in all this gratification 

my heart lies in me like lead at my ignorance of home 
events ; but I must still my anxious thoughts as best I 
may Lord Clarence Paget, I regret to say, is ab- 
sent on a tour for the benefit of his health." 

"Washington, August, 1838. 
" My dear Sir, — Learning from Mr. Gales that you are 
expecting to w T iug me on my flight homeward, I send you a 
word to apprise you of my return last evening to this quiet 



230 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

metropolis, where I wish with all my heart, selfish as it is, 
that I could have found you still sojourning. I passed New 
Brighton on Saturday, and while looking with admiration 
at its delightful position and beautiful edifices, little dreamed 
that you were one of its inmates. I could have run over 
to you instead of sweltering in the fourth story of the 
Astor House. 

" I have had a fatiguing but most interesting journey, 
and was fortunate in meeting old acquaintances (among 
them Lieutenant West, of the 43 d, a son of Earl De la 
Warre, with his regiment, now stationed at the Falls) and 
making new ones, which gave me, in addition to your own 
letters, a key to all desirable society at Toronto and Quebec. 
At the former place I saw Sir George Arthur, a fine-looking, 
dignified old officer ; and at the latter I saw and conversed 
a good deal with the Governor-General, whose manner, both 
at his table and in his bureau, was altogether different from 
that described by Willis in the last Mirror. I found him 
anything but reserved, — not only exceedingly conversible, 
but frank to a degree that rather surprised me, — this, how- 
ever, was when tete-ct-tete. The Countess of Durham is a 
handsome, not beautiful, unaffected, and apparently ami- 
able woman, who, with some aid of the imagination, might 

come up to Byron's portrait of her From Quebec I 

travelled home with great rapidity, my anxiety to obtain 
news o£ my family having become painful. Think of doing 
the distance between Montreal and New York in forty-three 
hours ! I am stunned by the incessant jostle and loss of 
sleep of the trip, and feel pretty much, I suppose, as if I 
had been shot from a mortar ! 

" I received every civility from Captain Baddeley, and 
dined with him at his beautiful cottage on the bank of Lake 
Ontario. I am greatly your debtor for bringing me ac- 
quainted with so clever, intelligent, and guileless an old 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 231 

soldier. Adieu. Have the goodness, when you have an 
hour on your hands which you cannot kill, to write to me. 
"Yours faithfully, and sincerely, 

"W. W. Seaton." 

Mr. Charles Buller, mentioned in Mr. Seaton's let- 
ter, a member of Lord Durham's council, was already 
distinguished in Parliament, being regarded as the 
foremost among the rising British statesmen ; and such, 
weight had he already attained in the estimation of 
government and in popular confidence, as to bid fair 
soon to fill the great position of Premier of England. 
Unfortunately for his country he was cut off in the 
fulness of his talent and usefulness, to the universal 
regret of the nation. The following notes from Mr. 
Buller and the fine old officer of the Guards show their 
appreciation of Mr. Seaton's attractive powers, their 
mutual regard being subsequently cemented by pleas- 
ant intercourse in "Washington. ' 

"Quebec, October 22, 1838. 

"Dear Sir, — Your letter of the 1st, coming at the 
leisurely and dignified pace of an officer of the Guards, 
reached me only two or three days ago. I am much in- 
debted to you for the very interesting papers you sent me, 
and Lord Durham desires me to express his thanks to you 
for the really valuable paper which you were so good as to 
forward to him. 

" I am much obliged to you for your words of comfort to 
us in our fallen fortunes, and I must say for our friends in 
the United States, that we receive very much, both public 
and private. I have been much gratified by your notice of 
our proceedings in the Intelligencer. The American Whig 
Press has been of great service to Lord Durham, and acted 
a most generous part. 



232 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

" I need not now enter into the propriety of his return- 
ing home, as he has explained the necessity of it in his 
Proclamation. I wish he could, as he at first proposed, 
have gone through the States and visited New York and 
"Washington. But on second thoughts he determined that, 
in the present alarming state of the Province, it was neces- 
sary that he should go home forthwith, to try if his presence 
can do any good. 

" I remain a short time behind, and shall go home in the 
Great Western from New York. Whether I shall be able 
to get to Washington I know not, but shall make the en- 
deavor. I am really sorry, in spite of all my ultra-democ- 
racy, to see Van Burenism triumphing in these elections. 
" Believe me, dear sir, yours very truly, 

"Charles Buller, Jr." 

"Glasgow, April 5, 1841. 
" My dear Colonel Seaton, — Your kind letter and pres- 
ent have been following me from place to place The 

fac-simile of General Washington's writing was particularly 
welcome ; for, although I cannot be supposed to be so great 
a worshipper at the shrine of that truly great man as you 
must be, yet the cosmopolitan reverence we bear on this side 
of the water to his memory is scarcely less warm than the 
patriotic one which electrifies the Union ; among men at 
least who have read his life, — and who has not ? The plans 
on the Boundary question, that knotty point, are very ac- 
ceptable. On this subject I am somewhat disposed to think 
privately, that you have, in point of law, as much in your 
favor as ourselves ; but how infinitely you fall short of us 
on the score of equity ! ! Look at the encroachment, and 
think of the object of this, as of all similar portions of 
treaties, — to remove as much as possible all inducements 
to an unfriendly interference. If you succeed without war, 
I will give you credit for diplomatic skill, but not for mag- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 233 

nanimity. War, however, I trust is out of the question, — 
men are too wide awake at this day to deal with its horrors 
until every other means have been had recourse to to avert 
it, — and, above all, a war with America ! No ! I, for one, 
would rather see you usurp the land, and if you can keep it 
gracefully, do so. If the foregoing political tirade should 
not settle the question in our favor, it will, I trust, induce 
you to reply to it, and thus I shall get another letter from 

you, if not the Disputed Territory Have you read the 

Quarterly for March 1 There is a' good article on this sub- 
ject, the impossibility by the words of the Treaty of showing 
which is the northwest angle of Nova Scotia. This is more 
curious than useful, — proving, however, what a blundering 
Commission drew it up. Indeed, I think the men who 
composed it have much to answer for, no less than for 
all the blood that may be spilled in the dispute. 

" As to the McLeod affair, we do not dream of it being a 
source of bloodshed, unless, indeed, you allow Lynch law 
to prevail, as you have done in too many instances. One 
thing I have to propose ; namely, that if ever you and I do 

meet in deadly collision, we will spare each other 

" Faithfully and devotedly yours, 

" T. W. Baddeley, Col. R. E." 

The following extracts, referring pleasantly to the 
impression made by Mr. Seaton in Canada, are from 
the letters of an English gentleman in the British ser- 
vice. So unusually clever and witty are his sketches 
of men and current events as to cause regret at the 
impossibility of presenting them unmutilated for peru- 
sal ; but this is forbidden touchingly, though tacitly, 
by Mr. Seaton himself; for in his remaining corre- 
spondence and papers, all that is malicious, — the sting 
of a story propagating, however unintentionally, some 



234 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

unkind gossip, — the name of the hero of an anecdote 
implicating, perhaps, not very creditably some of the 
most prominent men of the day, — all are found care- 
fully erased ; presenting an example of reticence that 
must be faithfully observed, — a delicacy characteristic 
of Mr. Seaton's benevolence and kindliness of nature, 
which never inflicted a wound on the heart or even 
the vanity of another, which shielded even an adver- 
sary from misrepresention or ridicule. 

"New Brighton, August, 1838. 

"My dear Sir, — How you managed to get from Mont- 
real to Washington in forty-three hours must be an affair be- 
tween you and the Great Western. I shall take the liberty 
of communicating the fact to Captain Hoskins. Pray offer 
your services to the Hon. Amos Kendall. But what I am 
most concerned about is having missed you. You would 
have passed a pleasant evening at this delightful place. 
We have lofty and clean bedrooms, a good table, delicious 
breezes, half an hour's trip to New York offering itself every 
hour, besides the National Intelligencer, which I, and only 
I, have the good taste to go to New York for once a day. 
The funny old fellow at the P. 0. who delivers the mail 
always talks to me. 

" ' This is not the worst paper in the world,' says he. 
' You mean it is the best,' says I. ' You don't take the 
Globe 1 ?' says he. 'Not I,' said I. 'I should be surprised if you 
did,' says he. 'I once saw Joe Gales,' he began again, 
' but I never saw the t' other fellow. What is he like 1 ' 
' Just figure to yourself a scalded-to-death corpse walking 
about,' I replied. ' Ecod, I can just see him,* says he. 

" I wrote you a note, and every day did I hope to see 
you, but, like yourself, you preferred seeing your wife and 
children. I congratulate them on your safe return. Thia 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 235 

place has become quite an appendage to New York. The 
night before last we had an Italian concert, — Fornasari, la 
Maroncelli (wife of the fellow-sufferer of Silvio Pellico, who 
lives here), and others. The company leaving New York 
at Seven p. m., and returning at eleven. And last night a par- 
ty from New York came out, and had a regular ball, bringing 
their own fiddlers. Think of that ! In old times, before 
the reign of steamers, this would never have been attempt- 
ed. They might have been driven ashore at Bedlow's Isl- 
and, or some other country inhabited by cannibals, or all 
shut oip, men and maidens in their dancing gear, in the tin 
castle of some Connecticut giant. Here am I, writing at 
my ease in the morning, going quietly to New York at two 
p.m., to put my letters on board the Great Western, 
which sails at four, not forgetting a letter to W. W. Seaton, 
by the great Amos ! What revolutions ! I had the satis- 
faction of finding all my old friends here, after an absence 
of eight years, looking a great deal older than myself. Two 
or three are here taking Brandreth's Pills. .Many are dead, 
nothing but odd volumes left I am off to Mont- 
real for the races. I was sure it was enough for you to pre- 
sent yourself to be well received by the society there. I shall 
hear of you. Adieu for the present, being unfeignedly 
" Your friend and servant, 

" G." 
Quebec, September, 1838. 
" My dear Seaton, — I shall confound my enemies with 
the glorious National Intelligencer which Charles Buller 
has just shown me. I '11 tell you what I think of you when 
we meet. But what, under Heaven, has caused you, from 
whom I expected other things, to disappoint me so per- 
fidiously 1 ' I know nothing that could give me more 
pleasure than a letter from you, and yet you don't write, 
you gallant, malicious Colonel, you hero of Bladensburg ! 



236 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

Take that as the heaviest denunciation of my resentment. 
. . . . I have just got into circulation here, and find 
it pleasant enough. Lord Durham speaks in the kindest, 
most flattering manner of you, and Charles Buller likes 
you better than any American he ha§ yet seen. I break- 
fasted with the latter this morning. .... I find Lord 
Durham's dinners very pleasant, nothing awful in them. 
A good cuisine, attentive servants, and perfect ease. What 
delicious ices ! how superior to Kinchy's greasy contrivances ! 
The day before yesterday we had a charming dinner there. 
I had an hour's talk in the morning with his Lordship, 
who is in good health and good humor just now, as Lord 
Brougham and others have been got the better of. He is a 
man of accurate information and fine judgment, a little like 
Mr. Fox in some things, — with whom, by the way, and with 
Turton, he was at Eton. We were about fifty that day at 
table. His Lordship had Mrs. T., a very accomplished 
woman, on his right ; I was on her right ; opposite we 
had Lady Durham betwixt two Catholic Bishops in their 
rochets and paraphernalia. I happened to be in a very 
talkative mood, and told Mrs. T. and Lord Durham so 
many ridiculous stories, and there was so much laughing, 
that the lots of Guardsmen present could not choose but 
stare. After dinner we had some good music, and a couple 
of rubbers with Sir John D., and I won, — which, you know 
is pleasant. I know of no more agreeable way of winding 
up the day than dining with a lord who keeps a good table, 
and winning money afterwards from good fellows who have 
the grace to pay. Last night we all went to the theatre, 
Miss Tree playing "by command." Audience rising on the 
entrance of the Governor-General and his family, orchestra 
playing God save the Queen, curtain rising, and the act- 
ors and actresses coming forward to sing the same most 
abominably. You don't do things in that style with Mar- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 237 

tin Van Buren ! . . . . May my enemies get all they de- 
serve, but may all happiness and prosperity and fame be 
with you and your generation in secula seculorum ! We 
are all mad here about mesmerism, or animal magnetism. 
The other evening we had a private exhibition at Charles 
Buller's before Lord Durham. Two Canadian women, one 
stone blind, were put into the arms of Morpheus in a mo- 
ment. A young Englishwoman, a servant-maid, was fre- 
quently put to sleep, and upon trial it was found that I had 
the power over her. I witnessed the influence it produced 
upon some officers of the Guards, — one of whom was taken 
with spasms, quite sea-sick. It is an odd affair, — I don't 
know what to think. The Royal Society of London has 

taken it up, and we are to have a report " 

"Quebec, December, 1839. 

" My dear Seaton, — I have not forgotten you, and 
never shall, nor anything about so worthy a fellow as you 
are. I sent you lately an address which it was hoped might 
serve to conciliate the feverish people on both sides the 
frontier. I hope, if the National Intelligencer notice the 
Boundary question, it will strongly point out the wicked- 
ness of any individuals, or Provincial or State govern- 
ments interfering when they are not called to do so, in 
the management of a question which by treaty and law be- 
longs solely to the governments of the two nations 

Help us to settle this grave question in a friendly way, I 
beseech you. I regard the bad and unprincipled in all 
countries with detestation, but there is no reason why I 
should dislike the countries they disgrace, or cease to love 
and honor those whose probity and excellence I know, and 
whom a cruel fate threatens to render powerless to raise 

your country to the honest eminence it ought to have " 

"London, February, 1840. 

" My dear Seaton, — I cannot permit the British Queen 



238 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATOX. 

to sail without assuring you that I remember you, and with 
undiminished affection. No time will efface the sincere 

friendship I feel for you and those most dear to you 

Some of the rabid Opposition papers ride over every pub- 
lic man in order to damage the Ministers. This has been 
carried to such extremes that it scarce does harm any 
longer. The safe rule is to take no notice of such attacks. 
A man named Westmacott, the editor of the Age, a very 
scurrilous paper, aspersed the character of a daughter of 
Charles Kemble, upon which, taking a horsewhip to repre- 
sent judge and jury, the father went to the fellow's office, 
and laid the damages on his shoulders in a manner that was 
'a caution to Crockett.' He got sixpence damages, and 

the offence was not repeated I entertain the kindest 

feelings towards ' Yankeedonia,' as the Turks call your coun- 
try, and neglect no occasion of doing justice to the wise and 
good I have left there. At the same time, when the occa- 
sion arises, I express myself in strong terms of what I have 
never approved of in the United States. I do not blame 
individuals so much as I condemn the laws, which have 
made many men less good and wise than others. The 
frightful effects produced by unrestrained democracy, the 
demoralizing effects produced by universal sum-age, never 
appeared to me so odious or so striking as they do now, by 
contrast with the good breeding, the integrity, the order 
and mutual support which all give to each other in this 
country, from the highest to the lowest. Existence is really 
a continual luxury to me. The houses are so commodious, 
so clean ; the furniture so apt to every purpose ; the food 
and the art of preparing it so perfect ; the servants so hon- 
est, so methodical, so obedient, and well dressed, that one 
almost regrets the passing over of every day, and would do 
so, but for the pleasure which is sure to be reproduced the 
next. Then society is so admirably conducted, there is 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 239 

such universal good breeding, intelligence, and ease to 
characterize it, that one cannot conceive of anything more 
perfect amongst human beings. This city, with its two 
millions of inhabitants, is a miracle of order and tranquil- 
lity. I walked home at two o'clock this morning from a 
dinner at least a mile, and saw no one but the respectable 
policemen walking about. The establishment of the pres- 
ent police does great honor to Sir Robert Peel. In the 
daytime no disorder ever does or can take place. The po- 
liceman appears to be looking at nothings yet has his eye 
on everything. So that the good walk with confidence, and 

the bad commit no disorders The idea that there is 

a strong Administration faction in the United States seek- 
ing to embroil the two countries in order to enrich them- 
selves by war expenditures has attracted great attention. 
All deprecate it, but all know that political considerations 
are often the cause of weakness in the Federal Government, 

rendering it the minister of selfish political cabals 

Mr. Calhoun's influence would, I trust, be directed against 
it, for a war would be especially injurious to the cotton- 
planters No doubt is entertained here that if the 

two national governments are permitted to come to an 
understanding, everything can be arranged consistent with 
what is due to justice, and the reverence civilized men owe 
to treaties. But if the frontier people will not obey the 
laws of the country, and you cannot enforce your laws, it 

will be a great public misfortune I pray that Maine 

may remain quiet. Justice will in the end be done. No 
English Minister could retain his place one day who would 
incur the risk of leading England into a war with you for 

the sake of enforcing an unjust claim People here 

have not the time to make themselves acquainted with the 
structure of the Federal government, and that it is not 
directly responsible for so much brutum fulmen by a State 



^^ 



240 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

government like Maine, and when questions are asked of 
those who know America, it requires a long story which 

nobody cares to listen to Society is ah old, quiet, 

reflecting animal here, and believes that a cause defended 
by abuse must be inherently weak The Royal mar- 
riage keeps London in a magnificent bustle yet. It is im- 
possible to get a chance to dine at home. I had the honor 
of kissing the Royal bride's hand at the first levee, down on 
my knee, all in toggery, and she has a beautifully small 
hand. Prince Albert is a fine-looking young fellow, and 
likely to be popular in England, as he is believed to be 
uncorrupt, amiable, and honest. Sir Charles Vaughan was 
at the levee, and looking very well. We often talk of Wash- 
ington, and he frequently speaks of you. I met Charles 
Murray, your friend, the other day at Catlin's Exhibition, 
with the Duchess of Sutherland upon his arm. I also 
sometimes get a chance of talking about America with the 
Marchioness of Wellesley, who is attached to her native 
country. I see Mr. Stevenson now and then and his wife, 
who is much liked here. And Joseph Bonaparte also likes 

to talk about America 

" Ever, dear Seaton, yours most faithfully." 

"London, July, 1840. 
" My dear Seaton, — .... I read your letter with 
great interest, and your observations on the proneness of 
governments purely democratic to get into collisions with 
foreign nations appeared to me so just, and were so admira- 
bly expressed, that I took occasion, when talking over such 
matters with Lord Palmerston the other day, to read the 
passage over to him, and he expressed his admiration for it. 
.... When I first knew your fine country, a dishonest or 
a dirty action, whether public or private, was frowned down 
at once by the stern face of the universal moral public 
opinion. Universal suffrage was introduced in the name 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 211" 

of liberty, and then demagogues began openly to use the 
many for the exclusive benefit of the few. But from what 
class were the few drawn 1 !:! 1 In countries where there is 
no distinction but that created by wealth or political power, 
men will take the shortest road to wealth ; and so it arrives 
that in a generation or two, the old examples of honesty 
and moderation in conduct and action become so far a dead 
letter that they are seldom referred to, and in time the 
ethics of the Old Bailey come to supplant them. How is 
a nation in such a deplorable position to be disenthralled 
from such influences 1 It is this insane desire to acquire 
wealth which has injured Americans so much in Europe 
that enterprises of the most promising kind are no longer 
looked at by capitalists. You might as well ask a man to 
take a share in the small-pox as in an American coal-mine. 
.... As to a war, it almost amounts to wickedness to talk 
about it. Maine has not risen in the estimation of this 
country by her blustering. We do not deem that tone an 

evidence of honest conviction of being in the right 

I congratulate you, or rather your good city, in its worship- 
ful choice of Mayor. My only objection is that the honors 
so long declined by your Lordship may postpone that con- 
stantly promised trip to see how you like old England. No 

doubt about her liking you " 

" London, 1841. 
" My dear Seaton, — .... The peaceful relations be- 
tween our two countries have been further menaced of late, 
and Boundary matters seem to be subordinate to the im- 
prisonment of McLeod, and to the singular fermentation 
which the bellicose report of Squire Pickens (as the Times 
calls him) .has temporarily produced. The Legislature of 
Maine, too, with its lofty resolves to " remove the Queen's 
troops from Madawasca," and its splendid appropriation of 
a million of dollars (since whittled down to one man paid 
11 p 



2 ^2-±^ WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

and maintained at the joint expense of Maine and Massa- 
chusetts), all these things have fairly dumbfoundered the 
people on this side. They are beginning to ask, seeing so 
many big words followed by such small consequences, 
whether Sam Slick is a romance or not. But their effect 

on American securities is terrible The true way to 

remove every obstacle quo ad hoc is to liberate McLeod. I 
should hope that the Federal government will begin its 
administration by frowning upon this irreverence done to 

justice A sentiment of abhorrence for war meets 

one here at every turn. We do not like Frenchmen, and, 
having no affinities with the other Continental powers, have 
little partiality for them ; but the colonies founded by John 
Bull, and the colonists sprung from his loins are dear to him. 
It will require great provocation to make him strike the 

first blow at them Mr. Forsyth and Fox have not 

liked each other for some time past. They are both men 
of talent, and when they are in the humor, you can get as 
good tincture of rnyrrh from them as you can at the worthy 
Dr. Gunton's. Let us pray that our hearts high and low 
may be disposed to do each other all the good we can, 
and to avoid every occasion of raising the arms of Ameri- 
cans and Englishmen against each other. General Harri- 
son's cabinet I know personally, and can bear testimony to 
their fitness for the important stations they occupy. Gen- 
eral Harrison I have met more than once. He was a very 
handsome man, and a very pleasing, well-informed gentle- 
man. How thankful you must be for having such a true- 
hearted man at the head of such a cabinet ! May Heaven 
prosper them and your country in peace, and make us all 
what you and I are, — friends in the best sense of the word. 

" Ever yours." 

"London, 1841. 
" My dear Seato?7, — .... Since the very unequivo- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 243 

cal declarations made by some of Mr. Van Buren's friends, 
that the American people ought not to be ground down to 
enrich the English holders of American securities, it has 
become impossible to inspire confidence in any securities 
whatever. Such declaration is considered equivalent to 
a proposition to confiscate every security held by British 
subjects, and for the moment the effect is prostrating. That 
the gentlemen now administering the government of the 
United States will always be opposed to such flagitious 
propositions, and that they will produce a restoration of 
American credit here, I sincerely believe ; but it must of 

necessity be slow For the last fortnight all who 

take an interest in America have had a gloom upon their 
minds in consequence of the non-appearance of the steamer 
President. She left New York on March 11, and has not 
yet been heard of. The only hope entertained is that 
she was disabled in a storm, and has either gained Ber- 
muda, or is slowly wending her way under sail and in a 
crippled state. Who comes here in the place of Mr. Ste- 
venson '?.... Such a man, for instance, as Colonel — what 
the deuce is his name 1 — would be worth millions to your 

country. I met Mr. G some weeks ago, looking as St. 

John the Baptist would do in a wig and new clothes. He 
has rum manners, although I dare say a very good man. 
Such men are only fit to keep company with the four-and- 

twenty elders in Revelations We have reached a 

political crisis here ; a division will probably take place to- 
night on a motion of ' Want of Confidence ' brought forward 
by Sir Robert Peel. A dissolution will probably take place 

and a new general election I am happy to say that 

the wise act of the Maryland Legislature in taxing their 
people for the interest of a debt created for their own ben- 
efit will produce a corresponding wholesome effect here. 
. ... It is Jackson-Van-Buren-republican-democratic- 



244 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

universal suffrage philosophy that has done all the mis- 
chief, and now that you have an opportunity you must 
repair it. Is it possible for that monstrous combination of 
horrors ever to overpoweV you again 1 . . . ." 

"Scarborough, 1842. 
" My dear Seaton, — •. . . . When your Senate shall 
have ratified the arrangements Lord Ashburton has made 
with the Washington government, I shall most sincerely 
return your congratulations. I see that a very strong op- 
position will be made, but perceive with pleasure that the 
American Press advises a ratification. Lord Ashburton is 
not yet arrived ; at least, we have not heard of it at this 
remote watering-place. Lord Aberdeen is at present with 
the Queen in Scotland, and my holiday lasts until the de- 
cision of the Senate is known, when we shall all make our 

way to Downing Street Providence has favored Sir 

Kobert Peel by giving us a most abundant harvest, and one 
of the most splendid . summers I 'ever saw. The disturb- 
ances in the manufacturing districts no longer give trouble. 
The income tax is submitted to with the best grace, and, 
will produce an immense sum, and money is plentiful. The 
Queen and Prince are universally popular, and nothing is 
wanting towards rendering the satisfaction more "perfect, 
but the establishment- of a regular and mutually prosper- 
ous intercourse with your country " 

"November, 1842. 
" .... I have been during this season making a round 
of autumnal visits at various country-seats in many of our 
English counties as far west as Devonshire and Cornwall, 
and a few days ago I left the Grange, a highly embellished 
place belonging to Lord Ashburton, where, with some prom- 
inent persons who take an interest in American affairs, we 
had a full discussion of the Treat v made by him. You 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. , 2io 

know what magnificent gardens are kept up at these family 
places, hot-houses, pineries, &c. There is a very great fancy 
just now for the introduction and cultivation of foreign 
grapes, of which singular fine varieties exist, brought from 
all parts of the world, and some of which, as you may im- 
agine, are very delicious ; but at no place have I met with 
an American grape. I wish, therefore, to introduce them 
here, especially the Catawba and Isabella. I have* prom- 
ised cuttings in various quarters, especially to Lady Ash- 
burton, who, you know, is an American by birth, and at 
whose table I met with boiled Indian corn on the cob, waf- 
fles, and other American dishes. Lord Ashburton often 
talks to me of you in high terms, and Mr. H. M. is very 

much your friend The respectable and prudent 

men in America are very much pitied here, a.nd it afflicts 
me that the demagogues ' and politicians seem to menace 
you with still further embroilments for an indefinite time. 
I have always thought that if you could only have one 
Presidential term under that excellent person, Mr. Clay, 
with a friendly Congress, that such examples of well-con- 
» sidered measures might arise that the people would become 
enamored of them, and, feeling the prosperity they would 
create, would at length give to such men and measures a 

steady support How happily we have got out of 

our Indian and Chinese wars ! Mr. John Bull has at length 
his belly full of satisfaction, and expects a regular supply 
of ammunition for his teapot henceforward. Your com- 
merce will benefit by it, for that Nankin treaty will open 
China to the whole of Christendom " 

"London, April, 1843. 
"My dear Seaton, — . ... The grape-vines so kindly 
sent by you have been distributed in the vineries of noble- 
men and gentlemen in various parts of the kingdom. I 
hope the Catawba grape will be considered a valuable ad- 



246 • WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

dition to the best grapes now known in England. I have 
principally sent them into Devonshire and Cornwall, which 
I think are onr most sunny counties. Some of them are at 
Lord Mount Edgecmnbe's, Sir Charles Leman's, and Sir 
Thomas Dyke Acland's. I also gave Lady Ashburton a 
couple at her desire, and a couple of roots to the Marquis 
of Lansdowne, who has a celebrated gardener at Bowood. 
If you ever come to England in my time, I hope it may be 
in the season when you can judge for yourself of the fruits 
of your kindness. If it is convenient for you to visit us 
now, you ought not to be deterred by the considerations to 
which you allude. We here understand that the honorable 
and good of America are not to be blamed for those evils 
they have had no share in bringing about, and rest assured, 
you would have no occasion to feel yourself slighted, but 

would be well received We are all delighted with 

Mr. Tyler's message on the subject of the Right of Visi- 
tation. Your navy has always practised the right of visit- 
ing suspected vessels, whether of slavery or piracy, and 
this country will always practise it. I see by a late speech 
of Mr. Cushing's that he is as Anti-English as ever, and » 
that his opinions on the Right of Visitation do not har- 
monize with those laid down in Mr. Tyler's message of 
February, which I take for granted are Mr. Webster's opin- 
ions adopted by Mr. Tyler " 

The Sir Thomas Dyke Acland mentioned above was 
a nephew of a brave officer, Colonel John Dyke Acland, 
of Pictou, of the British army, who fought during our 
Revolution, and died, eventually, of the effects of 
wounds received at Saratoga. His wife was the Lady 
Caroline Fox, daughter of the Earl of Ilchester, and 
cousin of the celebrated Charles James Fox. She 
married Sir John in 1770, followed him to this country, 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 247 

and passed heroically through many dangers in the 
wilderness for the purpose of nursing her husband, 
whom she long survived. Her history has been writ- 
ten as one of the celebrated, women of those heroic 
days. 

"August, 1846. 
"My dear Seaton, — I know how difficult it is to get a 

letter from you. Mr. M says sometimes in his letters, 

'Mr. Seaton is going to write to you by the next steamer,' 
which always enables me to say accurately to my wife, 
'Mr. Seaton was not going to write to me by the next steam- 
er.' .... The death of Harrison was a fatal blow to you 
all, and led the way, step by step, to the present order of 
things, from which I hope you will soon be relieved. Many 
years ago I was thrown familiarly with General Z. Taylor, 
now in Mexico. You cannot do better than make him your 
President. I think I never knew 7 one more likely to tread 
in the footsteps of the great Washington than General Tay- 
lor. I think there is reason to apprehend that if he gets 
engaged too far in that wTetched country about Saltillo, he 
will lose all the advantages he possessed when he crossed 
the Rio Grande. However, the Mexicans — poor devils ! — 
may be frightened enough to make a treaty of cession to 
stop your rapacious territorial maws. We are all glad the 
Oregon is closed. Mr. Polk cuts a curious figure in Europe 
blustering about 54.40, and then inviting the Senate to 
ratify on 49. The Senate stands very high in Europe for 
its judicious management of the affair, and if the defaulting 
States w r ould only make good their deficiencies, American 

credit would soon be re-established Pray tell me 

what Mr. Fox does, and what you understand his plans to 
be. He has discontinued writing to everybody in Europe." 

Mr. Seaton thus replies to his friend : — 



248 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

"Washington, November 12, 1846. 
" My dear Sir, — If it be true, as said, that a certain place, 
which I trust you nor I will ever see, is paved with good 
resolutions, I fear much that many of mine may be found 
there, — among them is the often cherished, but much neg- 
lected intention to write to you more frequently ; and this 
desire was never more ardently entertained than on the 
receipt of your welcome and very obliging letter. But for 
my failure, I have a valid apology. During the whole year 
Mr. Gales has been ill, dangerously so Then Con- 
gress has been in session nearly all the summer 

You inquired about Mr. Fox, and a month ago I should 
have written of him in a different vein from the present. 
You have, of course, heard of his death. He had continued 
to live in his usual perfect seclusion, and one morning, to 
my entire amazement, his death was announced. He had 
had no recent illness, and the suddenness of the event 
shocked me exceedingly. It now appears that he had been 
in the habit of using opium very largely, — his servants 
being under orders never to disturb him until rung for. 
He had been in his chamber a night, and nearly the follow- 
ing day, before a domestic ventured to enter. He was found 
in a state of lethargy, from which he could not be roused ; 
and all medical efforts to revive him failing, he died in a 
few hours.' He was supposed to have taken an over dose 
of morphine. Thus was a light that might have graced 
society extinguished, — a fine mind lost, Which, from mis- 
anthropy and singular eccentricity, was of little compara- 
tive value to the world. His remains were attended to the 
grave by the President of the United States, all the Cabinet, 
the Diplomatic Corps, and all persons of distinction in the 
city. His body is placed in the Congressional Cemetery to 
await the directions of his family for its final disposition. 
.... You were quite right in predicting for General 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 249 

Taylor a rough road in Mexico, even a long way this side of 
Saltillo ; bnt his courage, and that of his troops, has so far 
been victorious. His attack and three days' conflict at Mon- 
terey remind me of the hard fighting in Spain, where many 
similar assaults took place on the fortified towns and posi- 
tions occupied by the French, by the British army \ and 
where the same sort of persevering and irresistible bravery 
was displayed by the assailants. I am proud of the manner 
in which our troops acquitted themselves on the Eio Grande 
and at Monterey, and especially the raw volunteers. 
They have certainly done credit to their race and lineage, 
and that is praise enough. Nor have they found a timid 
enemy. The Mexicans have shown more pluck than I 
looked for, and have certainly behaved well for so mongrel 
a race. But if Taylor is under orders to push his way to 
Mexico (City), I fear for the safety of his army. He has a 
long march through a difficult country, badly watered, and 
poor, with several strong points to carry, and he must 
weaken his army by leaving garrisons to secure his rear 
communications. What an ill-judged measure was this war, 
when everything we are fighting for might have been won 
by money and negotiation ! Our only solace under it is 
the honor achieved by our arms ; but this at a terrible sac- 
rifice of life. How nobly the training of West Point has 
vindicated itself ! This war has settled the wisdom and 
value of that institution, and that is one good consequence 
of it. I read with great satisfaction and interest your ac- 
count of your comfortable berth and its agreeable concomi- 
tants ; but it was almost cruel to . tantalize me with the 
description, fated, as I am, not to see the picture. A voyage 
across, as you say, is very easy now ; but how am I, be- 
fore the period of decrepitude comes on, ever to break away 
from the trammels that bind me down here 1 If I had reso- 
lutely refused the mayoralty last June, I might have got 
ll * 



250 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

off this summer with my son ; but we are too easily per- 
suaded to keep office, especially one of which I have so 
much reason to be proud, — but cannot you visit us ] I 
will return with you, even if I have to resign the mayoralty. 
Pray, if possible, come and see us once more, if but for a 

month or a fortnight 

" Yours sincerely, always, 

"W. W. Seaton." 

In awarding just praise to the graduates of West 
Point — the military genius and heroic valor of those 
of her sons who, in drawing theh\ sword in the cause 
of Southern independence, achieved immortal fame, as 
well as the signal ability and undaunted courage of 
those who sustained the North, having alike added 
fresh lustre to that nursery of arms — Mr. Seaton did 
not in any degree seek to depreciate the gallantry of 
our volunteers, or the talent and great deeds of Win- 
field Scott. If, as some critics assert, Scott's military 
prestige culminated at Lundy's Lane, — though Wel- 
lington said that his march to Mexico was the greatest 
achievement of modern warfare, — it cannot be denied 
that the civil talent evinced in his organization of 
Mexican society; the peace he gave that distracted 
country, torn as to-day by faction and anarchy ; the 
order and content growing out of the presence of his 
invading and triumphant army, added laurels to his 
name not surpassed in brilliancy by his deeds of arms. 
After a series of victories following the great successes 
of the gallant Taylor, Scott rode into the grand 
Plaza, the folds of the American flag waving from 
the palace of the Montezumas. He had conquered 
Mexico, and — a greater victory still — he conquered 
the love and blessings of her people. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 251 

General Scott, a year younger than Mr. Seaton, the 
companion of his boyhood, and cherished friend until 
parted by death, shared with him in Eichmond the 
tuition of the learned and eccentric Ogilvie, Earl of 
Finlater, and it was doubtless to his teachings, as was 
notably the case with other pupils of the genial peda- 
gogue, that the future great Captain owed his love of 
"polite letters." Scott prided himself as greatly on the 
purity of his French accent, the felicity of his " retort 
courteous," his critical acumen and apposite quotation, 
as on his ability to lead serried ranks to victory. And, 
indeed, his taste for literary discussion and allusion 
inspired his staff with a salutary terror, as he required 
his aides to be as conversant with the classics as with 
field-tactics and the science of fortification. A gentle- 
man present described his amusement at the conster- 
nation of the General's military family on one occasion, 
when their chief, in the presence of a distinguished 
circle, was arguing some literary point, illustrating it by 
a quotation from Pope, whereupon one of his aides, 
whose usual accuracy was, perhaps, a little obscured 
by a late dinner, incautiously asked, * Is that from 
Shakespeare, General ? " Scott turned majestically, and, 
transfixing the unfortunate querist by his severity of 
look and tone, replied : " Sir, I am deeply humiliated 
that a member of my personal staff should be so 
ignorant as to confound Pope with Shakespeare, Be 
good enough to leave the room, sir!" Scott was an 
untiring talker ; and few persons surpassed him in the 
charm of those monologues, heaped up as they were 
with instructive and entertaining reminiscence of his 
magnificent career, — an interminable parenthesis of 



252 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

anecdote, which in Mr. Seaton's drawing-room often 
stretched to an hour past midnight, — the General occa- 
sionally refreshing his. memory by a pinch of snuff, 
which, in imitation of Napoleon, he carried loose in 
his vest .pocket. His voice was sweet, his countenance 
and blue eyes gentle in expression, his manner of true 
Southern courtesy to ladies and exceeding kindness to 
young people, while, like Saul, "from his shoulders 
and upwards he was higher than any of the people " ; 
but the severe wound received at Lundy's Lane in his 
left shoulder partially disabled him, slightly drawing 
down that side, without, however, impairing the majesty 
of his height and imposing presence. General Scott 
held the pen of a ready writer, — rather, indeed, it was 
thought, to the detriment of his political aspirations, 
and was not a little vain of his eloquence de billet. A 
note or two are subjoined, as thoroughly characteristic 
of his tone of expression : — 

" My dear Sir, — The Hon. Messrs. Barrow, White, and 
Green, whom I accidentally met, have engaged themselves 
to eat oysters and terrapins with me this evening after 
the arrival of the mail, say at nine o'clock. They were 
afraid of too much anxiety and depression, but I prom- 
ised to keep their spirits up by pouring spirits doivn, if 
there should be an excess of bad news over the good by the 
mails. I hope for the reverse, — that all that has been bad 
may be reversed. 

" I sent General Clinch to the Capitol this morning to 
invite you and some half-dozen other friends to join us, but 
the General has just told me that he could not find yon, 
and I am equally unsuccessful. This is written ex cathedra 
from your editorial chair, and I hope you will obey the 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 253 

wishes of your friends, however short the notice. Come 
thou then, and rejoice with us. 

. k * " Very truly yours, 

"Winfield Scott. 

" Wednesday, October 9. 
"W. W. Seaton, Esq." 

" My dear Mr. and Mrs. Seaton, — I am quite un- 
lucky — I may say, unhappy — in respect to that same fried 
chicken, — a dish that I do infinitely affect. But I have 
invited for the day a stranger in the land, Judge Woolley, of 
Kentucky, formerly of the army, one of Crittenden's friends ; 
and as I am obliged to forego the happiness of meeting the 
ladies, his Honor the Mayor — also a gallant Colonel, and 
as such amenable to the call, Roast Beef, or Peas on the 
Trencher, as well as to the 2d section — ought to dine with 
me. The case being plain, I rely upon his better pari to 
send him accordingly. My dinner shall be set forward an 
hour, all the way till three o'clock. 

" Apropos of late hours, here is a charming epistle of 
eight pages from Crittenden, complaining that Archer and 
myself starve him by compelling him to dine regularly with [ 
one of us at four. 

" And so I make my Sunday morning bow, reserving one 
more profound for the evening. 

"Winfield Scott." 

"West Point, N. Y., September 9, 1863. 
" My dear Mr. Seaton, — After a long and most pleas- 
ing intimacy with your family, it is painful to think it un- 
likely that I shall ever be again in Washington. Travel- 
ling has become in my case difficult, as I am obliged to take 
with. me my go-cart (Brougham), coachman, and valet, with 
many other 'means and appliances to boot.' My migra- 
tions, therefore, must in 'future be short and rare, perhaps 
exclusively limited to the fifty miles between this place and 



254 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

New York. Yet a few days in Washington would enable 
me to hunt up certain historical matters much needed for 
the memoirs I have, very recently, undertaken to write. In 
respect to two of these, I think you may, without much 
labor, be able to help me, — 

" 1. The proposition to abolish the office of Major-Gen- 
eral or Commanding-General was often before pongress. 
In the last instance C. J. (not Jos. R ) Ingersoll made an 
extravagant speech in my favor, declaring that, perhaps but 
for my services, that body (the one he was then addressing) 
might not be in existence. This speech was made in his 
last three terms in the House of Representatives. To 
the great regret of the public, your Annals of Congress 
stopped short of that period, and there 's not a file of the 
National Intelligencer within my reach. Probably your 
memory may be able to fix the date of the speech w T ithin a 
much narrower period, and perhaps my young friend, Miss 
, may be kind enough to copy the short passage allud- 
ed to. 

" 2. Sir Henry Bulwer, who I think was some two years 
in the United States, was quite a dinner orator. In some 
speech, being hard pressed for complimentary topics, he 
ran parallels between certain Englishmen and Americans, 
which was read to me, I think from the Intelligencer. 

Alexander Hamilton and were in one of the parallels, 

and Sir Walter Scott and your humble servant in another. 
There was again much extravagance on my subject, in the 
latter. Sir Walter Scott, it was said, had turned, history 
into romance, and the American, in allusion to Mexico, had 
done the reverse, &c. Far be it from me to arrogate to 
myself much of the merit attributed by either of the ora- 
tors cited, but should be happy to refer accurately to the 
passages in question. Again I appeal to your friendship 
for help. Sir Henry's compliment is not found in his din- 



A BlOGEAPniCAL SKETCH. 255 

ner speech before the Maryland Historical Society, as re- 
ported j it must therefore have been delivered in some 
other place, or the Commercial omitted it in deference to 
Mr. Webster, who spoke eloquently on the same occasion. 
Until within ten days. I felt confident that the speech was 
.made at Baltimore. Did Sir H. make a second speech be- 
fore that society 1 Messrs. J. P. Kennedy, Meredith, and 
Latrobe say not. The Secretary of the New York Historical 

Society says that he did not speak before that body 

I should say that the passage in question had been wilfully 
left out. Pardon this tedious note. 

" With the kindest regards to Mrs. and Miss Seaton, 
" I remain your friend, 

"Winfield Scott. 

" W. W. Seaton, Esq." 

Mr. Seaton, as usual foremost in the recognition of 
merit, had been especially solicitous regarding the cre- 
ation, or, rather, revival, of the rank of Lieutenant- 
General in favor of General Scott, not only for the 
reason of their long friendship and his State pride in 
the noble Virginian, but as a matter of justice ; this 
honor, approved of by the majority of his country- 
men, having been mainly withheld by the action of a- 
party and political feeling inimical to General Scott. 

A prominent Northern politician thus alludes to the 
circumstance in a bright note : — 

" Boston, February, 1858. 
" My dear Mr. Seaton, — I hope your Grace is well. 
As I was not permitted to see Gustavus Adolphus nor Na- 
poleon, I thank the gods that I am a contemporary of yours. 
Not an annual 'Thanksgiving' ushered into nativity by 
pumpkin-pies, drums, and fifes, but a daily offering before 






256 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

an altar where the candles of esteem and regard are always 
burning 

" I saw Mr. Ashmun the other day for a moment, and we 
had a word about your Excellency, which would have made 
your ears tingle and perhaps blush. Do great men ever 
blush? 

" General Scott spoke to me of the Lieutenant-General- 
ship, and I took the liberty of mentioning how nobly you had 
acted with the President in this matter. Wrong or no 
wrong, I could not help it, because it was so just, and like 
yourself. .... I met Colonel Benton here, who was highly 
pleased. He was well received, and may well be proud of 
the respect and attention which have "been shown him by 
the ' cold and chilling North.' 

" If you will take the trouble to send to the freight depot, 
you will find a kit of mackerel, which I hope you will 
enjoy. If you do enjoy them, thank the gods and think 
of me."' 

Henry Stephen Fox, whose sad death Mr. Seaton 
announced to his friend, was born in 1791, the son of 
General Henry Stephen Fox of the British army, who 
bore part in the battle of Lexington, 1775. His grand- 
mother was a daughter of the Duke of Kichmond, 
through whom this distinguished family derived from 
Charles II. and Henry of Navarre. A sister of Mr. 
Fox married Major-General William Napier, one of the 
brilliant brothers of that renowned family of warriors. 
Mr. Fox was -a nephew of the great Charles James 
Fox, whose portraits he strongly resembled, and in- 
herited no small share of the talent common to his 
race, which, however, in his case was so marred and 
obscured by eccentricity as to be worth little to its 
possessor. He had been in the diplomatic career for 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 257 

a number of years in the East, and latterly in South 
America, whence he was named to Washington as 
British Envoy, and successor to the handsome, genial, 
and popular Sir Charles Vaughan. Mr. Fox rarely 
entered general society, or any house save that of a 
colleague ; his intercourse with the government even 
seldom passing beyond scant official ceremonies. His 
habits and dress were singularly at variance with the 
people and modes around him. He rose at three o'clock 
in the afternoon, and would appear about six o'clock 
on Pennsylvania Avenue taking his morning walk. 

A gentleman on one occasion meeting him at dusk 
in the Capitol grounds, urged him to return with him 
to dinner, to which Mr. Fox replied that " he would 
willingly do so, but his people were waiting breakfast 
for him." On the occasion of the funeral of a member 
of the Diplomatic Corps, turning to the wife of the 
Spanish Minister, he said, " How very odd we all look 
by daylight ! " it being the first time he had seen his 
colleagues except by candle-light. He went to bed at 
daylight, after watering his plants, of which he .was 
passionately fond, and which he had a mania for col- 
lecting, also entomological specimens, and furniture 
of every description, which constantly arrived in vans 
from auctions far and near, cumbering attics, cellars, 
stairways; the immense accumulation found at his 
death never having even been opened. He died pos- 
sessed of a large amount of money in bank in this 
country ; and yet with such sums at command could 
rarely be induced to pay the smallest bill, — resisting, 
for instance, the claims of the cartmen who brought 
articles to his residence, which he would allow to be 



258 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

left on the pavement rather than give the men their 
due. This was eccentricity, not parsimony, for he was 
known to be even reckless in some expenditures. Like 
his celebrated kinsman, Charles James Fox, he played 
much and for high stakes at cards, but had not the 
reputation of being always prompt in the settlement 
of debts of honor. He led the life of a hermit, — his 
fear of intrusion amounting to a mania, his grounds 
and residence being almost barricaded to keep even 
inquisitive eyes at a distance, — and he never enter- 
tained, except to give gentlemen dinners, and those 
rarely, assigning as a reason, that he " would have to 
shake hands with the women " ; but he appeared to be 
amused en 'petit comite, and knew the gossip of society, 
to which he himself contributed not a little in the 
innumerable stories circulated of his oddities. He 
thought American women pretty, as a rule, but " look- 
ing as if they physicked themselves into ill health." 
He was scrupulously neat, in nankeen pantaloons 
guiltless of straps (for those were the days when such 
things were), a coat constructed years before by a Eio 
Janeiro tailor, swallow-tailed, blue, with brass buttons ; 
a shirt collar nearly concealing the crown of his head, 
a large hat suggestive of West India planter or Span- 
ish contrabandisto, and always a huge green silk um- 
brella. And yet with this singular costume, and an 
exceeding awkwardness of movement, there was* a 
musical voice, an air of peculiar refinement, and the 
unmistakable impress of a gentleman. He was tall 
and excessively thin, with the peculiar expression and 
cadaverous complexion of a confirmed opium-eater. 
His observation was acute, his conversation at times 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. , 259 

fascinating, and he was noted for his wit. One of his 
famous mots was recorded by Lord Byron, who, writing 
from Naples, says : " I met the other day Henry Fox, 
who has been dreadfully ill, and, as he says, so changed 
that his oldest creditors would not know him." 

"London, 1847. 
"My dear Sir, — .... Your valuable present was hand- 
ed me by Mr. Curtis within fourteen days of his departure 
from New York ; a remarkable quick passage, which might 
tempt you to the chance of a similar wafting across the 
ocean if you had not taken too firm root in your native land 
to be moved by any northwester, — which I begin to think 

is the case The conduct of the government of the 

United States, in the matter of Mexico, has occasioned many 
reflections to be made by the serious part of English society. 
That ' repudiating'' America should have invaded a younger 
and neighboring Republic because it had not and could 
not pay its debts is a measure thought to be pregnant with 
retributive consequences ; and the sooner you back out of 
that false step, the sooner you will return to the enjoyment 
of the high moral reputation you once had. I think Mr. 
Clay right, that an amalgamation with those corrupt Mexi- 
cans will eventually bring about the ruin of all that is moral 
and admirable in your government. All history points to 
such results as inevitable, and no Englishman, who feels as 
he ought to do, wishes to see your country degraded. Pray 
elect Mr. Clay if you can, or some one not of the Polk 
school. The people of England have been suffering for 
their mad speculations. What is to be done with Ireland 
no one ventures to say. To temporize with that great evil 

is all that we can do 

" Ever yours." • 

In 1840 Mr. Seaton had accepted at the hands of 



260 v WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

his fellow-citizens the highest testimony of their re- 
spect and confidence in their power to offer, — the 
dignity of the mayoralty, — which he had declined as 
early as 1820, and again, in 1834, resisted the follow- 
ing expressed wish of his constituents : — 

" Washington, May 18, 1834. 

" Dear Sir, — For 4he last two years the propriety of 
presenting you as a candidate for the mayoralty of our city 
lias been acknowledged by our friends, believing you to be 
the only individual on whom the respectable part of the 
community and the party would concentrate their force. 
In the present state of things/ the Whigs must be perfectly 

blind if they do not see a defeat, before them You 

are the one whom all good men will support, and I beg to 
know, in their name, if you will consent to have your name 

presented for -the office 

" Very truly yours, 

"Jo. L. Kuhn. 

"W. W. Seaton, Esq." 

Mr. Seaton's inaugural -address was characteristic of 
the man, — courteous, regretful for the possible morti- 
fication felt by his unsuccessful opponents, modest, yet 
firm in the intention to uphold his own sense of right, 
and to do his duty, — the watchword of his life. 

Never were the promises of an incoming magistrate 
more abundantly fulfilled than during the succeeding 
ten years in which Mr. Seaton was unanimously recalled 
to'tlfe mayoralty, an unprecedented tenure of the office 
in this country. In his civic administration Mr. Seaton 
manifested an ability, a fidelity and firmness, an uncom- 
promising honesty and sense of justice in the discharge 
of his duties, that marked him as a model maoistrate. 
He labored incessantly for the best interests of the 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 261 

community over which he was the watchful guardian, 
advancing with the most earnest solicitude all move- 
ments tending to its moral and intellectual progress ; 
inaugurating projects for its material improvement, 
adornment, and solid comfort, and with a full knowl- 
edge of its people aud their needs, devoted himself 
with unceasing interest and just pride to securing their 
welfare. By his personal influence in Congress he 
obtained so many grants and privileges, that the results 
of his persuasive power became a jest among the hon- 
orable members, who predicted that " if Mr. Seaton 
remained mayor much longer he would bankrupt the 
national treasury." 

Bringing these dispositions to bear upon the exe- 
cution of his trust, Mr. Seaton's administration was 
naturally the most successful in the history of the 
metropolis, the results of his far-sighted views, of his 
philanthropic suggestions and measures, being visible 
in the best features of its subsequent prosperity. 
Early in Mr. Seaton's administration an incident oc- 
curred, slight in itself, but striking in . its testimony to 
his loyalty to truth and delicate conscience. 

At the expiration of Mr. Van Buren's term of office, 
the Corporation of Washington obsequiously passed a 
vote of thanks to the retiring President for the cour- 
tesy, liberality, and kindly interest evinced by Jiim 
towards the city during his administration. Mr. Sea- 
ton considered this proceeding on the part of the 
Councils as derogatory to their self-respect and inde- 
pendence, the fact being notorious that from no pre- 
vious President had the city received so little benefit 
or token of good-will, either through the personal 



262 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

action of the Chief Magistrate or from his recommend- 
ations to Congress, the omission of even the heretofore 
ordinary civilities and hospitalities offered by the 
Executive to the citizens having become a matter of 
indignant comment in the community. Mr. Seaton, in 
upholding his magisterial and personal dignity, could 
not permit his name to ratify, as it were, not only a 
perversion of the true feeling of the society of which 
he was the recognized leader, but also an ex officio 
misrepresentation of fact relative to public measures, 
for which, in the corporation archives, he would be 
recorded as responsible ; he therefore sent in the fol- 
lowing veto : — 

" .... If the fulfilment of this resolution could be 
construed as an expression of mere personal good wishes for 
a gentleman going into retirement, who had filled the office 
of President of the United States, I should not object to 
uniting with the two Boards in the ceremony ; although, as 
a tribute not rendered to Presidents Jefferson, Madison, 
Monroe, and Adams, I might deem it uncalled for, and a 
precedent not altogether judicious. But as the terms of 
the resolution express a sentiment of high respect for the 
official course of the President, and as that sentiment would 
naturally be construed by him into one of approbation, my 
signature to the resolution would not be in unison with my 
avowed opinion, and would be known to the President him- 
self as hollow and insincere. 

" Though, therefore, I cannot hesitate as to the course 
which consistency and self-respect require me to pursue, 
my decision has not been unattended with embarrassment. 
By signing the resolution I should virtually retract my 
known opinions in regard to the administration of Presi- 
dent Van Buren, while, by withholding my signature, I 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 263 

may appear to aim an incivility at the Chief Magistrate of 
the Union, — a misconstruction which I should exceedingly 
regret, as it would impute to me a motive repugnant to my 
feelings, and to my sense of propriety. But, however un- 
willing to incur such an imputation, I must meet it in 

preference to its more objectionable alternative 

" I remain, gentlemen, very respectfully, 
" Your obedient servant, 

"W.W. Seaton." 

The Councils feared that the Democratic party in 
Congress would visit upon the city their disapproba- 
tion of the recalcitrant mayor ; but there is a spirit of 
appreciation of right in all men, and so it was in this 
case, for the measures for the relief or improvement of 
the city never lost a vote by the honesty of its chief 
magistrate. This duty had been the more distasteful 
to Mr. Seaton to perform, as he had maintained during 
former years very friendly and even intimate social 
relations with Mr. Van Buren, who always testified 
for him personally the highest respect, the following 
note being one among similar expressions of kindly 
feeling : — 

"Albany, April 27, 1823. 

"Dear Sir, — My friend and partner, Benjamin F. 
Butler, Esq., accompanies the Vice-President to Washing- 
ton, — make him acquainted with Mrs. Seaton and Mr. 
Gales. A Southern man would say that he is one of the 
finest young men in the world ; but after the sober manner 
of the North, I can only say that he is a young gentleman 
of the finest promise and character in this State. 
" Your friend, 

"M. Van Buren. 
"Mr. Seaton." 



2G4 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

Mr. Seaton's prolonged career, so inwoven with the 
social and political annals of Washington, was no less 
intimately identified with its national and philan- 
thropic societies, -which bear on their records the evi- 
dences of his unselfish labors and invaluable influence. 
Among the more noted of those which claimed during 
many years his earnest interest and constant co-opera- 
tion was the Colonization Society, of which he was 
from its inception one of the Vice-Presidents. 

" For many years," writes a well-known philanthro- 
pist, "Mr. Seaton was an executive member of the 
American Colonization Society, which ever enjoyed 
his confidence and regard, and received the powerful 
patronage of his persuasive pen and influential journal. 
His personal appearance, the geniality and warmth of 
his disposition, his unceasing kindness of heart, — all 
that goes to make up a good and lovely man, — were 
not only characteristics, but were speaking and visible 
features of his entire life. His name will always be 
associated with the early days and eminent men of the 
Bepublic." 

As the result of the labors of this beneficent so- 
ciety, Mr. Seaton hoped for the gradual solution of the 
questio vcxata of slavery ; for although by inheritance 
and association attached to this Southern patriarchal 
institution, a witness to the general benevolence of its 
operation and the happiness of the race subjected to 
its protecting administration, Mr. Seaton yet recognized 
its coexisting evils attaching to the master and the 
body politic of the state, the complications and deso- 
lating results of which his sagacious mind discerned, 
but which, with others of the wise and unselfish, he 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 265 

was powerless to avert. With his benevolent nature 
and keen sense of responsibility, he naturally cared for 
those who called him master, with the gentle forbear- 
ance and kindness to which their condition especially 
appealed. In the following editorial which the press 
widely commended as a " Blister for the Tribune," Mr. 
Seaton, prophetically commenting on the evils of sud- 
den emancipation throughout the South, incidentally 
alludes to the* practical illustration given by Mr. Gales 
and himself of the earnestness of their philanthropic 
theories : — • 

"Our active contemporary assumes imaginary ground for 
an adversary, attacks a position which was never occupied, 
and having carried it with great gallantry, rejoices in a vic- 
tory when there has been no battle. This is a decided im- 
provement upon the tactics of the redoubtable Captain Bob- 
adil, for that hero proposed the bona fide killing of his foes, 
though he never achieved it. The ingenious editor of the 
Tribune has brought his peculiar strategy to bear upon our- 
selves by ascribing to us the ' assumption that the South 
unanimously desires the President to restore slavery.' We 
disclaim the assumption, for we know it not to be true. 
.... All that we ask of the President in regard to slavery 

is to let it alone as a policy The theoretical abolition 

of slavery was as much beyond the President's power as 

it transcended his constitutional right There are 

thousands of masters in the South who would gladly get 
rid, if possible, of their slaves. The number of negroes of- 
fered to the Colonization Society, in every Southern State, 
for removal to Africa, during the last thirty years, is proof 

of the fact Can the fiercest or most fanatical 

friend of the negro look with complacency on the over- 
whelming ruin of the whites of the South, upon the sud- 

12 



266 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

den demolition of the whole framework and foundations 
of society of that vast region 1 ? .... Is such a revolu- 
tion the work of a day, or should it be one of an age 1 ? It 
is not .in the interest of slavery we speak, but in that of 
humanity, of civilization, we protest against the President 
undertaking to trample on State Constitutions, State Laws, 
and State Institutions. As for slavery itself, we have long 
regarded it as a deciduous institution, but it must fall by 
the action of the States themselves, not by usurped power 
or convulsion. The editor of the Tribune mistakes if he 
supposes that we oppose all arbitrary meddling with slavery 
because we are fanatical advocate's of the institution. It is 
very easy to be generous and philanthropic at other people's 
expense ; — but we can tell our contemporary, that the pub- 
lishers of the National Intelligencer have emancipated more 
slaves at their own cost and out of their own pockets, long 
before the present agitation, than all the abolitionists put 
together between the Penobscot and the Potomac, including 
the zealous emancipationist, the editor of the Tribune." 

Thus, in giving his slaves unbought freedom, Mr. 
Seaton individually carried out the principle to which 
he so earnestly gave his editorial adhesion, in the 
humane scheme of African colonization, realizing in 
his own personal efforts, in the most equitable and 
unselfish manner, the wishes of Lafayette, as ex- 
pressed in the following letter to Mrs. Bomford : — 

'" January 1, 1827. 
" .... I am much obliged to you, dear Clara, for 
your inquiries after my beloved friends Fanny and Camilla 
Wright These noble girls have devoted them- 
selves to a noble cause, but I am afraid the smallness of the 
scale and the shortness of their purse will not effect an end 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 267 

proportionate to their sacrifice of society and friends, for 
they have tnrned pioneers in the woods of Wolf River, Ten- 
nessee. How mnch more extensive would be a measure of 
gradual emancipation in the District of Columbia, however 
distant might be the assigned term, connected with coloni- 
zation ! The state of slavery, especially in that emporium 
of foreign visitors and European ministers, is a most lam- 
entable drawback on the example of independence and free- 
dom presented to the world by the United States. It would 
be for our friends of the National Intelligencer a glorious 
task to examine how far those truths can be offered to a 
generous population, and to take the lead in making them 
by degrees palatable, thereby softening the susceptibilities 
partly founded on considerations quite foreign to the main 
question. I hope Mrs. Seaton and child, whose birth near- 
ly dates with my departure, are in good health." 

In relation to the feeling excited among foreigners 
in Washington on this subject, to which Lafayette 
alludes, the following note from an esteemed French 
minister is not without interest. The young prince 
whose birth he thus wished to commemorate was the 
posthumous son of the Due de Berri, — who had been 
assassinated at the opera-house in Paris, — and now 
known as the Due de Bordeaux, or Henri V., as he is 
styled by the Legitimists of France, who hope con- 
fidently for his restoration to the throne of his an- 
cestors. 

" Deae Sir, — It is my intention, in celebration of the 
baptism of the young prince who is one day to rule over the 
Franks, to make free one poor little slave child. I pray, 
sir, please you, without any mention of my name to obtain 
information respecting the young slave girl who is spoken 
of in the enclosed advertisement, to be sold. at public sale, 



268 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

by Moses Poor, auctioneer. This communication I desire 

to be for yourself alone 

" I have the honor to offer you the assurance of my dis- 
tinguished consideration. 

"Yours, 

" E. Hyde de Neuville. 
"Washington, 25 June, 1821. 
" Monsieur Seaton." 

No project for the improvement of the city had Mr. 
Seaton's more cordial advocacy and anxious desire for 
its success than the Washington Monument Society, of 
which he was one of the founders, his relations with 
which dated from the day of its organization, when he 
Was elected Vice-President, the memorandum on the 
first leaf of its record being in his writing. 

" Of that small but select band of patriots," writes one 
of the officers of the Society, " Mr. Seaton was the only 
survivor, with the exception of Peter Force, who, in con- 
sideration of being as it were Ultimus Romanorum, was 
appointed to fill the vacancy caused by Mr. Seaton's death. 
Surpassed by none in affectionate veneration for Pater 
Patrice, the minutes of the Society from the first day of its 
existence bear tribute to his zeal, his earnest and valuable 
discharge of all the duties pertaining to his office; his 
presence at the Board inspired hope, while his judicious 
counsel, his constant and patriotic devotion to the best in- 
terests of the cause during the long period of thirty-three 
years, contributed mainly to its success." 

It was during Mr. Seaton's mayoralty that the cor- 
ner-stone of the Washington Monument was laid with 
elaborate ceremonies and much enthusiasm, the occa- 
sion being memorable also as the last appearance in 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 269 

public of President Taylor. Mr. Winthrop's beautiful 
address, felicitous as every effort invariably is of that 
liberal scholar, trained statesman, and high-bred gentle- 
man, was followed by proceedings so prolonged under 
the overpowering heat of a July sun, that the Presi- 
dent, already indisposed, and who had consented to be 
present only at Mr. Seaton's earnest solicitation, was 
overcome, and in fact there received Ms death-stroke, 
— as Governor Corwin jocosely declared, "through the 
malice prepense of Mr. Seaton, who thought that 
Fillmore would make a better Chief Magistrate." And 
in truth the Intelligencer, while doing full justice to 
General Taylor's frank honesty, good judgment, and 
brilliant soldierly qualities, and by no means indors- 
ing Mr. Webster's opinion that " his nomination was 
one not fit to be made," yet deemed it fortunate for the 
country that the accession of Mr. Fillmore should place 
the helm of state in the hands of a more experienced 
pilot, this prepossession being abundantly justified by 
the calm strength and conservative wisdom marking 
Mr. Fillmore's administration. 

However the surviving participant in this generous 
action may " blush to find it fame," yet, in justice to 
Mr. Winthrop and Mr. Webster, the following evidence 
of the modest yet munificent spirit of Northern gentle- 
men must not be withheld, strikingly illustrative as it 
is, as well^f the cordial kindness uniting the "brother- 
peoples '"'during the happy era of good feeling as of 
the reticent delicacy of a Southern gentlewoman, who, 
without appeal to the generosity of her countrymen, 
and declining it even when thus unobtrusively proffered, 
had maintained the dignity of her position as widow of 
a President of the United States. 



270 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

"Boston, October 9, 1846. 

" My dear Sir, — I was greatly grieved, before leaving 
Washington, to learn through some friends of the destitute 
condition of Mrs. Madison, and resolved to see if something 
in the shape of permanent and periodical relief could not be 
provided for her by those richer than myself. I think that 
means may be procured among us close-fisted, dividend- 
loving Yankees for buying her a little annuity, say of four 
or five hundred dollars per annum, for the remainder of her 
life, if it be thought worth while to do so. In order that 
we may do this, however, it will be necessary to know her 
precise age, as that will determine the cost, — and as the 
older she is the larger the annuity will be for the same 
money, it is desirable that she should not use the proverbial 
privilege of her sex on this subject. Two or three points, 
then, I should like to be assured of, viz. : — 

" 1. Whether Mrs. Madison's circumstances are really 
such as to make such an arrangement desirable for her. 

" 2. If so, her exact age in years ; if her birthday could 
be ascertained it might be best. 

" 3. How such a provision could best be communicated to 
her after it is made up, without occasioning her any feelings 
of delicacy or mortification, or even obligation. 

"Pray do not yet commit anybody to this arrangement, 
as there may still be a ' slip betwixt the cup and the lip.' 
But Mr. Webster and I have a notion that we can accom- 
plish the matter if we try. 

" With kind regards to Mrs. Seaton, 

11 Yours most truly and respectfully, 

" Robert C. Winthrop. 

" Hon. W. W. Seaton." 

During Mr. Seaton's official incumbency, the recep- 
tion and entertainment of celebrities naturally devolved 



A BIOGKAPHICAL SKETCH. 271 

on him, the citizens appreciating their good fortune in 
that the reputation of the metropolis should be sustained 
by the unfailing hospitality of their civic chief. Among 
his more noted guests — in addition to Presidents ex- 
pectant and in esse, and unnumbered distinguished citi- 
zens and foreigners — may be mentioned General Ber- 
trand, the famous companion-in-arms and friend of 
Napoleon, who accompanied his imperial master to St. 
Helena, and whose devotion drew from the illustrious 
captive the signal praise of being fidele parmi les infi- 
cleles. More interesting still, perhaps, was his guest, 
Charles Dickens, whom a nation welcomed with a 
spontaneity unsurpassed save in the reception of Lafay- 
ette. In the raciness and charm of Mr. Seaton's con- 
versation and manner, in the genial goodness stamped 
on every lineament of his countenance, the great 
novelist, the keen reader of every phase of human 
character, at once recognized the qualities of a man 
whom to know was to love. The immortal Cheeryble 
Brothers might seem to have been a prevision of the 
brother-editors of the Intelligencer, whose unhmited 
generosity and active sympathy with all suffering and 
wrong, and whose mutual devotion had already passed 
into history. Nor was there lacking, to complete the 
portraiture of the trio, the embodied fidelity, shrewd- 
ness, and personal devotion of Tim Lirikinwater, who 
lived again in the trusted clerk, the lifelong friend of 
Gales and Seaton, — Thomas Donoho. 

The following notes are characteristic in their ex- 
pression of friendly feeling on the part of the illus- 
trious " Boz ": — 



272 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

"Washington, 16th March, 1842. 

"My dear Sir, — I am truly obliged to you for your 
kind note. I am so constantly engaged, however, that I 
think I must deny myself the pleasure of making an ap- 
pointment with you, w r hich I could scarcely keep without 
making a most uncomfortable scramble of it. I will re- 
port my knowledge of the lions to you, and you shall judge 
how I have been shown about. 

" In case I should forget it when we meet to-night, may 
I venture to ask tw T o favors of you, — or rather one favor 
with two heads. 

"It is that you will kindly (if you see no objection) let 
my friends here know through that channel which is open 
to you, and over which you so ably preside, that whenever 
I make an appointment I keep it ; and that it gives me 
great uneasiness and pain to be placarded all over the town 
as intending to make a visit to the theatre, when I have 
given no authority whatever to any person to publish such 
an announcement; and secondly, that travelling as we 
do, we can never return the calls of our friends, in conse- 
quence of their immense number, and our very limited stay 
in any one place. 

"Let me take this opportunity of thanking you, most 
heartily and earnestly, for the exceedingly kind attention I 
have received at your hands, and the pleasure I have en- 
joyed in your society and in that of your family. I need 
scarcely say that Mrs. Dickens desires me to say as much 
for her. 

" I am, my dear sir, with true regard, faithfully yours, 

"Charles Dickens. 
"W. W. Seaton, Esq." 

"Xiagara Falls, SOtTi April, IS 12. 
" My dear Sir, — You will be glad, I know, to receive 
my hasty report of our safe arrival at this scene of beauty 



A BIOGEAPHICAL SKETCH. 273 

and wonder, — of our being off Western waters and cordu- 
roy roads, — and of our looking forward with great pleas- 
ure and delight to home. We are perfectly well, and not 
at all tired by our long journey. 

" I have received some documents from the greatest 
writers in England, relative to the International Copyright, 
which they call upon me to make public immediately. 
They have taken fire at my being misrepresented in such a 
matter, and have acted as such men should. 

"They consist of two letters, and a memorial to the 
American people, signed by Bulwer, Rogers, Hallam, Tal- 
fourd, Sydney Smith, and so forth. Not very well know- 
ing, as a stranger, whether it would be best to publish them 
in newspapers, or in a literary journal, I have sent them to 
some gentlemen in Boston, and have begged them to de- 
cide. In the event of their recommending the first-men- 
tioned course, I have begged them to send a manuscript 
copy to you immediately. 

"We often speak of you and your family, I assure you; 
and entertain a lively recollection of your great kindness, 
and the pleasant hours we passed in your society. Mrs. 
Dickens unites with me in cordial regards to Mrs. Seaton 
and your family. And I am always, my dear sir, 
" Faithfully yours, 

"Charles Dickens. 

" P. S. I enclose your son's pleasant and capital letter. 
Tell him that if he should ever come to London I will 
'swing' him about that city to some purpose, — being an 
indifferent good showman of the lions thereof." * 

* While these words have been in press, that great heart, that 
teeming brain and loving hand have been stilled, — and to millions 
whose mortal eyes never beheld him the earth is more sad, the sun 
less bright, since Charles Dickens went to rest. 

12* R 



' 274 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

The letter referred to from Mr. Seaton's son, then 
resident in Kichmond, is a pleasant picture of Mr. 
Dickens and of the impression made by him on an 
enthusiastic, modest young admirer of his genius. 

"Kichmo^, March 20, 1842. 

" .... I wrote a hurried note last night, to advise you 
that Mr. and Mrs. Dickens proposed going to Washington 
this morning, a delay in the departure of the boat to Nor- 
folk preventing their reaching Baltimore so soon as desired ; 
so they go no farther South. I was amused at the earnest- 
ness with which he asked me if I was sure St. Louis is far- 
ther north than Charleston. 

"C.'s letter reached me too late to allow me to comply 
with your wishes; and though I should of course have 
attended to your behests, it would have placed me rather 
more in the attitude of a lion-hunter than I like. Indeed, 
I have barely escaped as it is. I sent up my card to him, 
anticipating that I should find a crowd, and determined to 
pester him with very little of my chat, after offering my 
services. I thought I might approach him calmly, and like 
Malvolio, { quenching my familiar smile with an austere 
regard of control,' address him in the loftiest style of hos- 
pitable welcome. I had only time to frame an appropriate 
exordium, when his Secretary informed me that Mr. Dick- 
ens had been expecting me, and would be glad to see me. 
Entering the room with somewhat of a tremor, for I knew 
not whether he would ' roar as gently as a sucking dove,' I 
was seized by the hand and almost slung across the room, 
and a dozen remarks and questions addressed to me in a 
breath. For he was entirely alone and writing. In reply, 
I at first could only gasp, without much power of articula- 
tion ; for I suppose few persons feel with more devotion 
the homage due to the majesty of genius than I. He pro- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 275 

posed a walk, and we went to French Gardens. I need 
not say that I was delighted with his affable, cordial, frank, 
and conversible manner, a strong proof of which is, that in 
ten minutes I nearly forgot his distinction as an author, 
and Conversed with him on a variety of topics as they 
naturally arose. We discussed law, London, negro songs, 
Richmond, etc. And in truth, if I were to sum up in one 
sentence the impression he left on my mind, it would be, 
that he is a thorough good fellow. As you may suppose, 
from your own feelings, I sedulously avoided the crowded 
streets, having no idea of being pointed out as having 
seized Boz immediately and monopolized him. On our 
return we found several gentlemen, and, with Mrs. Dickens, 
we walked to Church Hill. She spoke of the pleasure she 
enjoyed at our house, and their hope soon to see you again. 
Afterwards we went to the Capitol, but persons crowding 
in to see them, I made my bow, after a kind invitation 
from him to call whenever I felt disposed. I saw that he 
was likely enough to have people around him, and did not 
see him again that day ; though I felt unquiet and restless, 
I must confess, and could hardly resist going again. 

"On Saturday morning I sent up my card, and sat a 
short time ; but he was at breakfast, and expected a crowd 
of visitors, so did not go out. He had been up late at a 
supper the night before, and laughed at my reason for not 
attending it, that I should have been called on for a 
speech. He was, I hear, very happy, and every one else 
very insipid in their efforts, except Mr. Ritchie, with whom 
he was greatly pleased. 

"At his levee, from twelve to two, I attended to pre- 
sent a lady, and spoke awhile with him. He and his 
wife offered to bear letters, etc., to you from me, which I 
declined, and took leave. I knew last night that they were 
receiving friends, and I could with difficulty keep away 



276 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

from the Exchange. Whether from gratified vanity or a 
purer feeling, admiration of genius, or simply a liking for 
the man, I know not, but I do feel very sorry that he has 
gone. I have never seen a man in whom, in so brief a 
period, I was so greatly interested. His likenesses cer- 
tainly natter him, but they cannot give the charm of his 
face, his rich expression of humor and merriment when 
he laughs, — his whole face lights up. And then if he is 
not a man of fine feeling, no confidence is to be placed in 
the face as an index of the heart. I do sincerely hope his 

life may be a happy and prosperous one 

" Your affectionate son, 

"Gales Seaton." 

One feature of Mr. Seaton's municipal administra- 
tion possesses a value hardly to be over-estimated, — 
his persistent efforts in the cause of public education. 
His investigations had developed a deplorable state of 
ignorance among the children of the city, and a general 
apathy on this vital subject which awakened his most 
earnest solicitude. During several years the pages of 
the National Intelligencer were laden with arguments 
and appeals in this matter, the facts gathered and 
recorded by Mr. Seaton having produced the deepest 
impression on his own mind, and, in truth, startled the 
whole community. In 1842 Mr. Seaton, in his annual 
communication to the Councils, in the most express 
language and strongest terms, urged reform in the ex- 
isting state of education and the immediate adoption 
of the Massachusetts school system. 

" The recommendation in Mr. Seaton's message, in 
harmony with the enlightened philanthropy of its au- 
thor, was in advance of public sentiment and encoim- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 211 

tered great hostility. Public meetings were held on 
the subject, and the names of John Quincy Adams, 
Levi Woodbury, and Caleb Cushing are found among 
those who stood boldly and conspicuously for reform." 
A municipal colleague of Mr. Seaton thus records 
the value of his services in behalf of education : — 

" It was to Mr. Seaton's persevering efforts that the 
youth of this generation are indebted for the present ex- 
cellent system of public schools. When he entered on the 
duties of the mayoralty there were only two public schools 
in the city ; but justly estimating the value to the com- 
munity of a new and improved system, he continued from 
year to year to press the subject on the attention of the 
legislative branches of the government, until it was adopted 
in the fourth year of his administration, from which time 
the number of schools has continued to increase until their 
scholars now amount to nearly twice as many thousands as 
there were hundreds at the time of his inauguration. 
Among the many beneficent acts of his official life this 
will stand preeminent; and among the many friends in 
whose hearts his memory will be the longest cherished 
there will be thousands who, but for his philanthropic 
efforts, would have been denied the blessings of education, 
and the manifold benefits resulting from that mental and 
moral culture which the children of all classes of our fel- 
low-citizens have since enjoyed, by means of the more 
liberal and enlightened s} T stem which he so opportunely 
introduced and established." 

To Mr. Seaton's unfailing interest in the " increase 
and diffusion of knowledge," and in every movement 
tending to moral and intellectual progress, the country 
may be said to be mainly indebted for the successful 



278 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

realization of the beneficent design of James Smith- 
son in the foundation of the Smithsonian Institution. 
The following sketch of Mr. Seaton's services in con- 
nection with this valuable society is extracted from an 
eloquent eulogy by its distinguished secretary, Profes- 
sor Joseph Henry, whose profound learning and benev- 
olent nature Mr. Seaton held in reverential regard, 
whose name is honored wherever science finds a votary, 
and whose modesty is only equalled by the value of 
his discoveries in the operations of Nature's laws : — 

"The Smithson fund, paid into the treasury of the 
United States in 1838, had been, with other moneys, lent 
by the government to the State of Arkansas, and remained 
for eight years without appropriation to any object contem- 
plated by the donor. In 1846 Mr. Seaton, being then 
mayor of Washington, and surpassed by no one in zeal for 
the public good, and in the influence due to his rare social 
qualities, his known integrity, and peculiarly winning and 
unaffected eloquence, united with other gentlemen in urg- 
ing upon Congress the organization of an establishment 
which should at length do justice to the benevolent views 
which had dictated the bequest. Their labors, after much 
opposition, were finally crowned with success; the good 
faith of the country was redeemed by an unconditional as- 
sumption of the debt incurred by the improper disposition 

of the fund The Institution was placed under the 

guardianship of fifteen regents, among whom was included 
the mayor of Washington, a provision chiefly due to the 
zealous interest which had been manifested by Mr. Seaton 
in his enlightened advocacy of the enterprise. 

"At the first meeting of the Board of Regents he was 
elected Treasurer, and subsequently one of the building 
committee. The former office he continued to hold until 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 279 

the time of his death, and during the whole of this period, 
nearly twenty years, discharged its duties without other 
compensation than the pleasure he derived from an associ- 
ation with the Institution, and the laudable pride he felt in 
contributing to its prosperity and usefulness. It is well 
known that at the time of its organization a wide diver- 
sity of opinion existed as to the practical means which 
would be most suitable for realizing the objects of the leg- 
acy. Mr. Seaton, on mature reflection, finally gave his cor- 
dial support to the policy which sought to impress on the 
Institution a truly cosmopolitan character. He strenu- 
ously advocated the plan which the Secretary had been in- 
vited to submit to the Regents, and which looked to the 
advancement of knowledge chiefly through the encourage- 
ment and publication of original researches, a system 
which may be claimed, without undue pretension, to have 
made the Institution favorably known, and to have exerted 
a well-recognized influence wherever men occupy them- 
selves with intellectual pursuits. 

" The relation borne by Mr. Seaton to the city of Wash- 
ington, the delight with which he watched and aided its 
progress, a native taste also for artistic embellishment, led 
him to take special interest in the architectural character 
of the building and the ornamentation of the grounds sur- 
rounding it. 

" Mr. Seaton, from his familiarity with the early history 
of the Institution, as well as from his long experience in 
public office was enabled to offer suggestions to the Board 
of Regents, always marked by clearness and soundness of 
judgment. The social attentions which he was accustomed 
to extend to the Regents, and to gentlemen invited to lec- 
ture before the Institution, were but the expression of his 
characteristic hospitality ; but by thus adding to the pleas- 
ure of their sojourn in the capital, he contributed largely 



280 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

to increase the number of its friends and supporters. The 
columns of the Intelligencer under his direction were 
always open to the defence of the policy adopted and the 
course pursued by the Institution, and he rarely failed to 
soften by the courtesy of his manner and the moderation 
of his expressions any irritable feeling which might arise 
in the discussion of conflicting opinions. It would indeed 
be difficult to say in how many and in what various ways 
he contributed to the popularity as well as the true inter- 
ests of the Institution. The Secretary, who was in the 
habit of conferring with him on all points requiring mature 
deliberation, may with justice acknowledge that he never 
failed to derive important assistance from the wisdom of 
the counsels of this distinguished and lamented citizen, 
who will be remembered as one of the most constant and 
enlightened friends and benefactors of the Institution." 

One of the most interesting public incidents occur- 
ring during Mr. Seaton's official life was the relief ex- 
tended by the government and people of this country 
to ill-fated Ireland. The sad tidings reached us that 
once more that land was stricken by famine and pesti- 
lence, that thousands were perishing for bread ; and to 
Mr. Seaton's own overflowing sympathy with suffering, 
under whatever form or on whatever shore, are due the 
conception and inauguration of the movement result- 
ing in such imperial munificence of aid. 

" Never," writes a gentleman cognizant of the circum- 
stances, "never shall I forget Mr. Seaton's touching expres- 
sion, and the words with which he met me one morning in 
the autumn of 1846. 'I declare,' said he, 'that when I 
left the office last evening and sat down to dinner, and 
thought of -the famishing Irish, the women and children, I 
could not eat a mouthful. What can be done ? 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 281 

"Taking his seat at the office table, in a minute he 
handed me a notice calling upon the Irishmen, and all 
friends of humanity in Washington, to meet at the City 
Hall, to adopt measures of relief for our suffering brothers." 

At the very large assemblage consequent upon this 
appeal Mr. Seaton was chosen chairman, making an 
address which aroused enthusiasm not only in his 
hearers, but was answered and re-echoed from many 
a distant point throughout the country, Henry Clay, 
among other patriots, coming from his retirement to 
preside at a meeting in New Orleans, and to quicken 
with his matchless voice this gracious throb of our 
national heart. Mr. Seaton rested not in his active co- 
operation until, in a month, ten thousand dollars were 
collected,- a ship chartered and laden with provisions 
and despatched on her errand of mercy. The bark Gen- 
eral Harrison, commanded by a Virginian, arrived early 
in June, 1847, in the port of the Cove of Cork, now 
Queenstown, — her officers and crew being received 
with rejoicing wherever they appeared ; and at Galway 
a magnificent banquet was held in honor of these 
bearers of glad tidings, a description of which, and of 
his own maiden essay in post-prandial oratory, is thus 
narrated by one of the participants in the pleasant 
occasion, then a very young man : — 

" I was waited on by a committee of gentlemen, at Kil- 
ray's Hotel, Galway, and invited to a public dinner to be 
given the succeeding day by the nobility, gentry, His Wor- 
ship the Mayor, and their Honors the Corporation of the 
1 Towne of Galway,' at Nolan's Hotel, Eyre Square. It was 
also intimated to me that I should be expected to reply to 
a regular toast. How much I felt honored, and how far 



282 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

' flustered ' by this intelligence, at that tender age, would 
be difficult to say. 

" When the committee, of whom I remember Sir Thomas 
Blake, of Menlough Castle, and Vicar-General Roche, had 
shaken hands and retired, I started out for a walk by the 
banks of the beautiful Lough Carib, and the ruins of Tier- 
land Castle. The delicious air and tranquillizing melody 
of numerous thrushes, with the exquisite scenery, and its 
novelty and poetic associations, so drove all thoughts of my 
speech far from me, that when I found myself the next 
evening seated at the banquet, I had as little idea of what 
my speech was to be as I now have of what it was. His 
Worship the Mayor presided, assisted by the most distin- 
guished representatives of the ' City of the Tribes,' — the 
Blakes, of Menlo and Renville Castles, the Badkins, the 
Burkes, the Ffrenches, Lord Wallscourt, of Ardfry, and 
three hundred other prominent gentlemen. 

" The hall was a noble one, draped with the American, 
British, and Irish flags, a profusion of flowers, while two 
magnificent bands of British regiments — one of them the 
famous 43d, or Faugh-a-hallach — discoursed inspiring 
national music. 

" The Macedonian had arrived a few days before, and 
an American bark, the Selma, had that day anchored off 
Galway, laden with provisions, on the noblest mission to 
which Heaven ever lent favoring gales. 

" The enthusiasm was unbounded, the great Irish heart 
was lifted up, and swelled almost to bursting, and when, — 
after a few almost sobbing words of praise and gratitude 
had ushered in the toast, ' America, the land of the free, 
and the home of the brave,' and all, rising amid a burst of 
thundering cheers, had drunk off a bumper, — I heard my 
name passing from lip to lip and resounding through the 
hall, any idea of a set speech abandoned me, as it would 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 283 

have done a more accustomed orator. At last, ' when silence, 
like a poultice came to heal the blows of Sound,' I arose. 

" ' Mr. Mayor and Gentlemen — ' Cries of 'Hear, hear,' 
before I had uttered another word, disconcerted me ; but 
I remembered that I was but the mouthpiece of my philan- 
thropic countrymen, the speaking-trumpet, as it were, of 
the bark Harrison, and proceeded without fear. When I 
sat down, after a speech of half an hour, there was great 
crowding round me, and hand-shaking, while the health of 
* His Worship, William Winston Seaton, Mayor of Wash- 
ington,' was drunk standing, with three times three, and 
music by the band. 

" When the editors of various papers called to obtain 
a copy of my address, it would sadly have puzzled me to 
recall what I uttered during those to me memorable thirty 
minutes. One point only I adhered to in the Speech, — 
warm laudation of that eminently good man and public 
benefactor, whose departure our community still mourns, 
— William Winston Seaton. I gave honor to whom honor 
was due. I told them to whom pre-eminently the Irish 
people were indebted. I mentioned the name of that 
honest, true, heartfelt friend of Ireland and the Irish, by 
the side of whom, in practical benefits conferred upon their 
people, a host of their native pretended patriots, craving 
notoriety, must pale their mirage light. 

" I related how Mr. Seaton was the very first to start 
this Heaven-directed movement in my native land, bent all 
his energies to the labor of love, and though he had been 
the means of launching already a victorious armada upon 
this mission of mercy, even yet he rested nor day nor night, 
nor proposed to do so, until the last cry of fever and famine 
in Ireland be turned into tears and prayers of gratitude to 
God. I told them that he was mainly, if not alone, instru- 
mental, through his personal persuasion with eminent men, 



. 284 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

in causing the frigate Macedonian to be sent to the relief 
of our Irish brothers. 

" The effect of this just though inadequate eulogy was 
such that I refrain from the description of the enthusiasm." 

Proverbially susceptible to kindness, the ardent 
Irish heart warmed to Mr. Seaton in gratitude, not 
only for his unwearied exertions in alleviating their 
national affliction, but for his constant sympathy and 
active aid in pen, purse, and kindly words, during his 
whole life. The story of these services had been borne 
to their native land by many a son of Erin, so that 
when for a few brief days Mr. Seaton sojourned in the 
Emerald Isle, he was welcomed by hospitality from the 
Lord Lieutenant, the late amiable Earl of Carlisle, and 
more humble friendly hearths. Among those who had 
spread the fame of his benevolence was the Eev. Mr. 
Gill, of Galway, " whom I presented," writes his rela- 
tive, " to Mr. Seaton, the friend of poor Ireland, whose 
kind reception and warm-hearted welcome delighted 
the good priest. He had travelled in many lands, and 
was an enthusiastic admirer of old families, old tradi- 
tions, and was -especially fascinated *by Mr. Seaton's 
manners and winning presence. ' I seemed,' said he, 
1 to have known him for many years, and had I heard 
his voice, with bandaged eyes, I should have believed 
myself to be in the presence of the head of the house 
of Seaton, whose guest I was some years ago, while 
sojourning near his lordship's seat in Scotland; and 
what is still more remarkable, in personal appearance 
Mr. Seaton bears a singular resemblance to that noble- 
man.' " 

Among the celebrities whom Mr. Seaton hod the 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 285 

gratification of welcoming to his hospitality was the 
apostle of temperance, Father Mathew, whose labors 
were crowned with signal success in this country, and 
who moved amid the fervent blessings of a million of 
grateful hearts. The following note expresses a grace- 
ful recognition of the honors so worthily bestowed on 
the modest and holy man : — 

"Richmond, Va., 22d December, 1849. 

" Honored dear Sir, — My sojourn in Washington was so 
short, and my avocations so numerous, that I was prevented 
from thanking you previous to my departure for your 
exceeding courtesy and urbanity. The hospitality of the 
Catholic pastor, my zealous, learned, pious, and most 
esteemed friend, the Rev. Mr. Donelan, prevented me from 
enjoying the privilege of being your guest ; but accept my 
grateful acknowledgment of your kind and courteous invi- 
tation. I feel honored by this proof of your approbation of 
my labors. I thank you and your amiable and most esti- 
mable lady for all those delicate attentions, so pleasing to 
human feelings, which you and Mrs. Seaton have paid to 
me so gracefully. The happiest moments of my life were 
passed in Washington, and are to me forever memorable for 
the high honor conferred on me by your illustrious Houses 
of Representatives and Senate. Your great and good Pres- 
ident, too, complimented me more than I could even hope 
for, by allowing me the privilege of dining at his table, and, 
what I prize much more, by treating me as a friend. 

" But amidst all the splendors of Washington, not except- 
ing that perfect model of architecture, the thrice majestic 
Capitol, the most sublime spectacle I beheld was the Presi- 
dent of this glorious and mighty country, unattended and 
alone, in your public Greets, in the true Republican sim- 
plicity of the olden time 



286 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

" I have the honor to be, with the most profound respect, 

Honored dear Mr. Mayor, 

" Yours gratefully and devotedly, 

" Theobald Mathew. 
" Hon. Me. Seaton." 

In 1850 Mr. Seaton retired from the mayoralty, 
after an unexampled length of service, peremptorily 
declining, on the score of advancing age, the office to 
which he had been caUed with unanimity during times 
of high party excitement, * and which it would seem 
indeed to have rested only with himself to fill to per- 
petuity." An address from the citizens, requesting 
Mr. Seaton to reconsider his proposed retirement, thus 
urges the wishes of his constituents : — ■ 

" . . . . We may be permitted to say that you have con- 
ferred large benefits upon our city during your successive 
terms of office, and that the extended period of your public 
service, so honorably prolonged, furnishes the best assur- 
ance, not only of the value of those benefits, but of their 
appreciation by your fellow-citizens. We feel confident that 
you have lost no portion of that zeal which, through a long 
life, you have manifested towards the city, nor the public 
of that confidence which it has always so warmly felt and 
bestowed. Looking, then, upon the past and the present, 
we can discover no reason, other than the further sacrifice 
of your personal interests and quiet, which should induce 

you to decline 

" With great respect, your fellow-citizens." 

In expressing the gratification derived from this 
approval of his official life Mr. Seaton says : — 

**.... But, gentlemen, I crave relief from the engrossing 
labors and anxieties of the office, and however your indul- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 287 

gence might be disposed to dissent from the plea, I feel that 
its increasing duties require to be placed in younger hands. 
It is not without an effort, I confess, that I resist an appeal 
from so large a body of my fellow-citizens ; but resist I must, 
and I pray you to excuse my adhering to the purpose I have 
indicated. I have not words to thank you for this signal 
proof of your approbation at the end of so long a term of 

service 

" I remain your faithful and grateful friend, 

"W. W. Seaton." 

Upon the occasion of the inauguration of his suc- 
cessor, Mr. Walter Lenox, in the honors of the mayor- 
alty, Mr. Seaton, after receiving the joint resolution of 
thanks from the two Boards for the able manner in 
which during ten consecutive years he had discharged 
his onerous duties, arose and addressed the assemblage 
with his usual modest and effective eloquence. " He 
briefly reviewed the prosperity which had attended the 
infant metropolis during the past ten years ; highly 
complimented the Senate and House of Eepresenta- 
tives for their liberality towards it ; referred with deep 
feeling to the Washington Monument and to our pub- 
lic schools, — ten years ago there were two, now twenty ; 
faithfully and glowingly portrayed the advantages of 
the Smithsonian Institution ; and, adverting with pride 
to the fact, that during the ten years of his adminis- 
tration there had not been between himself and the 
Council a single misunderstanding or unkind word, he 
reiterated his congratulations upon the choice of a 
gentleman of such energy and intelligence for his suc- 
cessor. We may say, and without contradiction, that 
it was one of the most felicitous speeches for a retiring 



288 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON.' 

Chief Magistrate we ever heard, and for its brevity, 
propriety, and good feeling, worthy of being character- 
ized as a model address." 

" Turning to Mr. Seaton's record as mayor,'" writes 
still another eulogist, " we find in him a model worthy 
of imitation. Possessing all the requisites to insure 
success, — honesty, intelligence, firmness, energy, and 
perseverance, — he labored diligently, and used all his 
personal influence and power to make the city what 
it was designed to be by its illustrious founder. The 
dignified and impartial manner in which he discharged 
his duties will ever be the subject of commendation, 
and those who aspire to places of profit and trust may 
well take him for their guide and study." 

If officially his administration had thus signally 
gained the suffrages of his constituents, he no less won 
their heart. 

Accessible to all classes, listening with patient 
sympathy to the story of need or wrong, which was 
eve^ promptly relieved or redressed ; tenderly consider- 
ate of the humble and poor, these were the qualities 
which appealed to the sensibilities of all the good and 
all the suffering. 

A friend of fifty years says of Mr. Seaton: "His 
unbounded benevolence was a household word, and a 
folio could not contain the record of his disinterested 
acts of kindness, of the charities that marked his daily 
path. So well was his liberality known to exceed his 
official income, that the city fathers several times pro- 
posed to increase the mayor's salary ; but tins, as well 
as other substantial testimonials of appreciation, Mr. 
Seaton peremptorily declined and persisted in vetoing. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 289 

Generous as a prince, he suffered no appeal to go un- 
answered. To the destitute, the stranger, he gave his 
last cent. I have seen this, and more. I was present 
in his office when a poor man, ill and travel-stained, 
came in, and related his case to Mr. Seaton. The eye 
of the dear old Colonel softened with feeling, and in- 
stinctively his hand went to his pocket, — empty, alas ! 
for it had only a few moments before been drained for 
another poor creature ; but he rose from his seat, sent 
out and borrowed a few dollars for this stranger. I 
would rather have been that man than the owner of 
the mines of California ! " And this is only one among 
thousands, literally, of similar incidents, unremembered 
and unrecorded by himself, and only learned from the 
grateful hearts which invoked blessings on his head. 

In Mr. Seaton were united, in a remarkable deg °e, 
all the elements of personal popularity, — calm, digni- 
fied, engaging manners, a generous temper, exquisite 
courtesy and refinement, a genial affability and spright- 
liness, blended in a person of rare manly beauty, were 
among the attractions with which all who had the 
privilege of his friendship, nay, all who approached 
him, confessed him to be so eminently gifted. 

Mr. Seaton's colloquial power was indeed of a high 
order. His exceptional personal knowledge of the 
secret springs of political and social history and rare 
reminiscences of the great actors in public events 
during the past sixty years, his varied information, 
derived alike from books and men, his originality of 
thought illustrated by apposite and pointed quotation, 
his quaint humor and fine wit, his freedom from dog- 
matic or disputatious temper, were among the traits 

13 s 



290 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

which, imparted to his conversation an exalted charm, 
and rendered his society proverbially captivating, — an 
attractiveness not only recognized among the hnmble, 
the great, and wise of our own land, but widely ac- 
knowledged by foreigners, "especially the diplomatic 
representatives of other governments solicitous of ob- 
taining from his lips an explanation of our involved 
politics, and those sagacious views of public measures 
which have been known on several noted occasions to 
materially influence the deliberations of foreign cabi- 
nets, and to determine their international policy." 

A most touching tribute speaks of Mr. Seaton's con- 
versation, as "wisdom, substantial and gentle. He 
was an admirable listener. How clearly do we re- 
member his aspect and manner, especially in his office, 
as editor of the great modern press ! Dear exhibitions 
were they of his interesting, peculiar self. Who can 
forget that almost deferential kindness, leading him to 
interlock his hands, recline back in his chair, and 
listen to your statement or remarks with that native 
politeness, the true source of which is benevolence, 
loving and caring for others ? And so, when he spoke, 
no one desired to interrupt the calm and precious flow 
of Iris ideas. There was a weight of influence in all 
that he said, more telling than energy ; while manli- 
ness, gentleness, and the dignity of a natural grace, 
were characteristics of his manner, the more artistic 
from being simple. Dear Colonel Seaton ! Good, 
noble, brave, generous, kind. I feel now more recon- 
ciled to the kingdom of death, for I know you are 
there to greet me." 

In shielding others from the wound which a thought- 



BIOGKAPHICAL SKETCH. 291 

less or unkind word might inflict, and in drawing forth 
to the best advantage the talents and attainments of 
each, Mr. Seaton's tact was of a delicate grace. In- 
deed, his manners, without assumption or condescen- 
sion, suave yet stately and reserved, were those which 
we are wont to describe as " royal " — although, per- 
haps, his higher title to distinction resided in the 
truth of his characterization, by persons from very 
opposite points of our country, as " the first gentleman 
in America." An indorsement of this reputation is 
related by a gentleman who chanced to be present at 
the State Department during an interview between 
Governor Cass and a newly arrived British minister, to 
whom the venerable secretary said, in his well-known 
George-the-Third way : " Have you seen Mr. Seaton ? 
Eh, eh ? The best we have to show, — best we have to 
show'" 

There was in Mr. Seaton's manner a certain bear- 
ing, something indefinable in his air, which effectu- 
ally repressed any undue familiarity ; and bold would 
have been the man who, misled by his geniality and 
urbanity, presumed to take a liberty with him. 

A gentleman whose associations had been those of 
a provincial town, upon his arrival in Washington, not 
quite appreciating the dignity underlying Mr. Seaton's 
playful spirit, presumed to address him in a large cir- 
cle as "Seaton" ! Mr. Seaton, when next alone with this 
rather ambitious social neophyte, administered this 

gentle rebuke : " Mr. , you will pardon me, but as 

I have never in my life taken a liberty with any man, 
so have I never permitted a liberty with myself, and 
for the future I must ask you to remember that I am 



292 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

Mr. Seaton." The characteristic reproof was received 
in a spirit that proved its recipient to be worthy of 
the regard with which Mr. Seaton subsequently distin- 
guished him. 

This rigid self-respect, enjoining an equal recogni- 
tion of the rights of other men; the delicate honor, 
almost a religion in its sanctity, pervading his inter- 
course with others ; the reserve, even reticence, gov- 
erning his general relation with society, which yet 
never made him ungenial or uncandid, were the char- 
acteristics which mainly conduced to the freedom from 
all personal enmity or hostile collision with political 
adversaries, that marked Mr. Seaton's prolonged career. 
Yet, with this absence of self-assertion existed a quick 
perception of any infringement on his personal dignity. 

Upon the arrival in Washington of General Harri- 
son, previous to his inauguration, Mr. Seaton, partly in 
his official capacity, made an address of welcome to 
the incoming President, followed by some remarks of 
a similar nature in an editorial, which had the effect 
of exciting the especial ire of Mr. "William E. King, 
of Alabama, afterwards Vice-President of the United 
States, who, in the Senate, severely commented on 
them in terms which savored of personal disrespect to 
Mr. Seaton, and in some degree seemed to impugn the 
honor of himself and Mr. Gales. Without delay Mr. 
King was required to offer a full explanation, and 
in his senatorial seat to retract whatever might be 
deemed offensive in his remarks, or to give Mr. Seaton 
the satisfaction usual with o-entlemen. 

Senator Manguni, having great tact in such matters, 
was intrusted by Mr. Seaton with tins delicate mission, 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH, 293 

being met, on the part of Mr. King, by Senator William 
C. Preston. Finally, Mr. King's better feeling asserted 
itself ; he manfully and honorably avowed himself in 
the wrong ; the result of the spirited correspondence 
was made public, and the friendship between Mr. Sea- 
ton and himself, begun in early manhood, was warmly 
renewed, only to be interrupted by the death of Mr. 
King. 

" While possessed of unswerving firmness and rigid adhe- 
rence to principle," writes a prominent public man and 
journalist, " Mr. Seaton was charitable alike in his personal 
opinions and in his political faith. Bearing no malice, a 
model of courtesy, he observed in conversation and in his 
journal the wise proverb, which says, ' Think twice before 
you speak once,' — and this trait leads me to another qual- 
ity in which he was also pre-eminent, — a peacemaker ; for 
with his large heart and magnanimous nature, his counsel 
was always for conciliation and forg'iveness, in proof of 
which I cite the following incident : — 

" Daring the administration of President Tyler, when 
Daniel Webster was Secretary of State, there was a painful 
estrangement between the United States Senate, where the 
Whigs were in the majority, and Mr. Webster. It grew 
partly out of the fact of Mr. Webster remaining in the Cab- 
inet of Mr. Tyler, selected by General Harrison, after his 
associates had resigned .; and partly from the policy of Mr. 
Tyler, which was almost wholly adverse to those who had 
made him Vice-President. Mr. Webster, however, remained 
in the Cabinet for the purpose of negotiating a Treaty with 
Lord Ashburton. The Northeastern Boundary difficulty, 
long pending, and leading to angry controversy in Congress, 
in New England, and among the people, and at one time 
seriously threatening war, was one of several points settled 
by this famous treaty. 



294 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

" Mr. Seaton was deeply pained to see the Whig Senators 
alienated from Mr. Webster, and was resolved, if possible, 
to bring them together, and restore their friendly feeling. 
They met at his own house, surrounded by a large number 
of personal and political friends, and the hope was, that 
before the night should pass, ' the good old humor and the 
old good-nature ' of former times would be restored. These 
honorable and praiseworthy sentiments were more than real- 
ized. In the midst of the delightful supper I was requested 
by Mr. Seaton to remind Mr. Webster that he was about to 
be toasted, as he was upon the instant, by Mr. Mangum, 
then President pro tern, of the Senate, as ' The Author of 
the Washington-Ashhurton Treaty.' Mr. Webster, who was 
never at a loss for the word of inspiration on such occasions, 
and who often showed greater qualities in private life than 
in public services, replied instantly, 'The United States 
Senate, without which the Treaty could never have been rati- 
fied.'' Nothing in matter or manner could have been better 
said or done on either side, and the fruit of Mr. Seaton's tact 
and kindliness was the restoration of the best relations 
between the Senate and Mr. Webster. If on earth the 
peacemakers are blessed, then indeed, for this and many 
similar services, the memory of good Colonel Seaton will 
be cherished by all who honor unselfish actions and noble 
deeds." 

Another incident, illustrative of this benevolent 
wish to restore harmony between dissevered friends and 
colleagues, is thus related by the late Governor Swain, 
of North Carolina : — 

" Among the thousand anecdotes which Judge Gaston was 
wont to narrate in connection with his public life, was one 
in reference to the known kindliness of the editor of the 
Intelligencer. Perhaps the most brilliant of Judge Gaston's 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 295 

legislative tournaments was a conflict with Mr. Clay on the 
Previous Question, as a rule of order. Mr. Gaston went into 
the debate after careful examination of all the points of law 
and history that had been mooted in the mother country 
and our own on the subject, and caught Mr. Clay wholly 
unprepared. Eminent statesman and patriot as he was, Mr. 
Clay was nevertheless human, and retired from the contest 
somewhat soured. They did not meet again for many years, 
the feeling rankling in Mr. Clay's heart, until, during a visit 
of Mr. Gaston to Washington, they met at Mr. Seaton's 
dinner-table. They each gave token of recognition, but 
preserved a stately reserve, until, with an expression well 
understood by both, the host offered the sentiment : ' Friend- 
ships in marble, enmities in dust.' Kind and cordial inter- 
course ensued, and they were personal and political friends 
during the remainder of their lives." 

Mr. Seaton's intimacy with Mr. Webster, the almost 
romantic attachment existing between them, has be- 
come a record of history, and during the period of 
nearly forty years but one absolute break occurred in 
this close and honorable friendship. 

This interregnum also hinged upon Mr. Webster's 
continuance at the helm of state, when his colleagues 
had resigned their positions in the Cabinet of Mr. 
Tyler, who, true to his instincts as an old-school Vir- 
ginia Eepublican, had a second time vetoed the re- 
establishment of a National Bank. Mr. Webster's 
course elicited great severity of comment even among 
his warmest friends in the Whig party, and his famous 
speech at Faneuil Hall, defining his position, had drawn 
from the Intelligencer a criticism rather unusual in 
strength of expression for the stately columns of that 
journal. This action on the part of the Whig oracle 
Mr. Webster felt most keenly. 



296 ■ ' WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

A few days after Mr. Webster's return to Washing- 
ton, Mr. Seaton being at the State Department, called 
to have one of his usual friendly chats with the Secre- 
tary, when, to his surprise, his frank greeting was met 
by an icy and repelling politeness. Instantly seizing 
the position, and perfect master of himself, he remained 
for a few moments conversing on indifferent topics, 
and then withdrew with a quiet dignity not to be 
ruffled by the haughty temper of a Webster. Conscious 
that the course of the Intelligencer was justifiable, and 
never deviating for foe or favor from what he held to 
be a duty, Mr. Seaton calmly awaited the conciliatory 
advance, which, from ]\ir. Webster's sense of justice, 
and personal feeling for himself, he was sure would be 
offered. 

Meanwhile an embargo was laid upon the usual 
intimate intercourse maintained between the two 
families, against which the younger members strongly 
rebelled, contriving to run the blockade under the very 
guns of the two stately frigates, which merely exchanged 
signals of courtesy. Many were the efforts of friends, 
frequent the private embassies to effect a reconciliation 
between the belligerents ; but Mr. Seaton made no sign, 
remaining firm in his position that the overture for 
peace must distinctly proceed from Mr. Webster. At 
last this estrangement could be borne no longer ; and, 
preceded by his son Fletcher, as a diplomatic avant 
courier, Mr. Webster one evening entered the smoking- 
sanctum of Mr. Seaton, and fairly taking him in his 
arms, with one hand-clasp all was forgiven. 

There was no friend with whom Mr. Webster's rela- 
tions were more close and enduring than with Mr. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 297 

Seaton, whose affection he had tried in many a conflict 
of opinion, and had, indeed, grappled him to his soul 
with hooks of steel. With the exception, perhaps, of 
Eufus Choate, no one so well as Mr. Seaton had the 
art of " drawing out " the " Great Expounder " ; but Mr. 
Choate was deficient in an appreciation of the beauties 
of nature, and still more in that love of field sports, 
which was so strong a tie between Mr. Seaton and the 
great fisherman. Mr. Choate would roam about the 
country with his eyes and thoughts absorbed in the 
book he ever carried, unheeding the fresh sweetness 
of morning, or the sunset glory over the ocean ; or, 
which still more excited Mr. Webster's ire, would pass 
unnoticed the magnificent Durham " short horns," their 
master's boast. Finally, one morning at breakfast at 
Marshfield, Mr. Choate coming in tranquilly from a 
stroll, with his Horace in his hand, Mr. Webster, 
turning impatiently to Mr. Seaton, said, "I declare 
to you that I do not believe Choate knows a horse 
from a cow." 

Mr. Charles Lanman, so widely known for his in- 
teresting narratives of sporting lore and adventures, 
as also for other valuable contributions to litera- 
ture, — among them his delightful private life of 
Daniel Webster, — thus pleasantly relates his indebt- 
edness to Mr. Seaton's kindness for his introduction 
to Mr. Webster: — 

" Having in the summer of 1850 captured an unusually 
large rock-fish, at the Little Falls of the Potomac, I had 
sent Mr. Seaton the spoils with my compliments, which he 
in turn presented to Mr. Webster. On the following morn- 
ing Mr. Seaton entered the library of the War Department, 
13* 



298 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

of which I was librarian, and in a solemn voice, without 
any explanation, informed me that my presence was de- 
manded by the Secretary of State. I hastened to the 
Department with a palpitating heart, and entering the 
' presence,' was welcomed by the Secretary with these words : 
1 1 am told, sir, that you are a famoifs fisherman, and I wish 
to capture a monster rock-fish in your company.' A variety 
of fishing and sporting adventures with Mr. Webster and 
Mr. Seaton were the result of this interview. Mr. Seaton's 
passion for field sports was a marked and widely known 
feature of his character, and during many years his duck- 
hunting and piscatorial expeditions down the Potomac were 
a delight to himself and the various distinguished friends 
eager to be included in his party ; while to hear him 
recite his adventures on his return home was a pleasure 
never to be forgotten by those so privileged. Mr. Seaton 
was an intense lover of Nature in all her multitudinous as- 
pects, and bound me to a promise to report to him every- 
thing new and interesting that I might learn on the subjects 
of hunting and fishing. A little incident will illustrate his 
long-continued pleasure in the sports of the field, in which 
his skill was hardly surpassed in this country. A few 
months previous to his last illness his favorite pointer, the 
companion of many a delightful expedition, and whose intel- 
ligent devotion to his master was a matter of local history, 
died of old age ; and Mr. Seaton, in paying a tribute to the 
qualities of his faithful canine friend, said to a gentleman, 
' Ah, how much I should like to have a good dog in Ponto's 
place ! ' His friend expressed surprise, intimating that at his 
advanced age he could scarcely be equal to such hardy 
amusements. 

" ' I shall be eighty-one years old in two months,' replied 
Mr. Seaton, ' and not only should enjoy, but it would do 
me good to go out and bag a dozen woodcock to-morrow ; 
and if I had a dog, should certainly do so.' " 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 299 

Mr. Seaton owned a fine farm and shooting-box up 
among the AHeghanies of his native Virginia, — known 
by his family name of Winston, — where he would 
often escape for a few days' relaxation, to breathe the 
pure air of the wilderness, and hunt the red deer ; 
being always accompanied by fellow-sportsmen, among 
whom Mr. Webster delighted to be numbered. Those 
memorable shooting excursions ! The ten-miles tramp 
through the stubble-fields of Prince George, or the 
havoc among the ortolan along Potomac's reedy banks ! 
By those privileged to share them, they can never be 
forgotten, when, genial and full of fresh spirit, Mr. 
Seaton fascinated his very pusher : " willin' to pull all 
day to hear the Colonel talk." Fortunate pusher! 
What treasures might have been preserved for history 
had he noted down the political disquisitions, the dis- 
cussions of life's grave problem, the wit, the boyish 
fun which fell from the lips of Daniel Webster and 
Mr. Seaton over their " double barrels " while rocking 
in that little skiff! With what heartiness would 
Webster's contagious laughter awaken the echoes, ex- 
cited by some quiet stroke of humor or anecdote from 
Mr. Seaton ! This joyous phase of the Great Defend- 
er's nature was little known to the outside world, 
which approached him with awe and bored him in- 
tensely. " Why do people always talk law to me ? " 
he used to say ; " I know enough law." The world 
knew Mr. Webster in the Senate, the Forum, grand, 
sublime in the majesty of his intellectual greatness, 
but little comprehended the sprightly humor, the play- 
ful grace, the tender sweetness which rendered him so 
captivating in an intimate circle. In his own home, 



300 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

where he was the most noble, regal host; or in Mr. 
Seaton's drawing-room, singing every known song, — 
generally impartially to the same tune ; or gravely 
essaying the steps of a minuet de la cowry which he 
had seen danced in the courtly Madisonian era ; or 
joining in the jests of the gay circle, his magnificent 
teeth gleaming, his great living coals of eyes, — 
" sleeping furnaces," Carlyle called them, — soft as a 
woman's ; or his rare, tender smile lighting up the 
dusky grandeur of his face, — then it was that Mr. 
Webster was infinitely fascinating. He enjoyed the 
society of agreeable and beautiful women. "I love 
to hear women prattle," he said. " even if they talk 
nonsense, — but why will they use such long words ? 
With them every one is ' the most exquisite creature,' 
' the most enchanting fellow,' ' the most delicious 
dancer.' My dear, why can you not say, ' She is 
comely, — he is agreeable, — he dances well ' ? " 

In connection with this well-known simplicity of 
Mr. Webster's language, which renders his style a 
model of Anglo-Saxon strength, Governor Swain re- 
lated tins characteristic anecdote of the genial and 
learned Judge Gaston: — 

" During a period of high party excitement, Judge Gaston 
made a speech in the House of Representatives which the 
Federalists regarded with favor, and the Republicans feared 
might do injury ; it was not reported in the Intelligencer. 
Various gentlemen called on Mr. Gaston, requesting him to 
write out his remarks for the Federal Republican, which he 
declined doing, until Mr. Webster came in and would take 
lio denial. Mr. Gaston complained of weak eyes. ' That 
shall be no obstacle,' said Webster, 'I will act as your 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 301 

amanuensis ; walk across the floor, and I will write as you 
dictate.' Mr. Gaston, who until then had never regarded 
himself as chargeable with redundancy of style, had ut- 
tered but a sentence or two when Mr. Webster stopped him 
with the inquiry, repeated again and again before he got 
through, ' Gaston, won't one of those words do 1 I make it 
a rule never to use two words when one will answer as 
well.' " 

Mr. Webster liked an audience. An appreciative 
word, an intelligent glance, especially from bright eyes, 
and he became inspired. Masterly criticisms of 
Shakespeare, historical parallels, anecdotes of Eng- 
lish statesmen and jurists, learned disquisitions on 
oak-trees, reminiscences of his own career, varied by 
clever nonsense, or some story of wrong and scathed 
affection told with inimitable power and pathos, would 
keep the circle spellbound far into the night. But it 
was in touching on more solemn themes, when speak- 
ing most reverently and in his grand way of the con- 
soling, sublime promises of the Scripture, that Mr. 
Webster rose into a wonderful elevation of strength 
and eloquence. Strongly religious in his nature, — 
his theological convictions were Unitarian, — he was 
a daily student of the sacred volume, recognizing the 
beautiful harmony between Nature and Eevelation, 
dwelling with profound interest on the magnificent 
prophecies of Isaiah, the unapproachable imagery and 
inspiration of the Book of Job and the Psalms, but 
especially on the value of the Gospel of John, or, as 
he termed it, the " Gospel of Love " ; esteeming one 
chapter of this Apostle to be worth all the disquisitions 
of Paul, in sorrow or at the approach of death. 



302 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATOX. 

The evening before Mr. Webster delivered his great 
compromise speech of 1850 he spent several hours 
with Mr. Seaton, who, when his friend rose to so. 
took his arm, and they strolled pleasantly along. On 
arriving at Mr. Webster's house he in turn took Mr. 
Seaton's arm and insisted upon seeing him home. 
The scene was amusing, Mr. Webster wishing to take 
the exercise, enjoy his friend's society, and look up 
at the star-studded sky, now descanting on the won- 
ders of Nature, then repeating passages from the 
Bible, Milton, and Virgil. Incidents of this character 
might be multiplied indefinitely, and they prove the 
power which, in his peculiarly quiet way, Mr. Seaton 
exercised over every manner of man who approached 
him ; and Mr. Webster constantly sought his society, 
at his office, at his fireside, while Mr. Seaton enjoyed 
his cigar, though Mr. Webster seldom smoked. 

As is known, Mr. Webster was an unconscionably 
early riser, — reading, working, making notes for sena- 
torial or forensic onslaught, or the basis of a treaty, 
before the sun was up, varied by visits to his kitchen, 
where he delighted to confer with Monica, its presid- 
ing Congo priestess, as to the mode of dressing the 
" bass " for dinner, or salting a round of beef, gravely 
discoursing to her meanwhile on matters of higher 
import ; or strolling through the market, startling 
wondering lookers-on by pricing a bunch of parsley 
in that sonorous voice accustomed " listening senates 
to command." He had a habit of scribbling notes to 
Mr. Seaton at this matutinal hour, jotting down some 
passing thought, making an engagement for the day, 
and not unfrequently sending impromptu doggerel lines, 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 303 

indited while at breakfast on an empty egg-shell. 
Unfortunately, only a few of these disjecta membra 
have been preserved, but they are valuable relies as 
exhibiting Daniel Webster in a phase of character 
not known to the outer world. It may be interesting 
to record several of these memorable scraps. 

" My dear Sir, — I thank you for the summer ducks, 
which were found delicious. I thank you for the woodcock, 
and have yet to thank you for other favorable and friendly 
kindnesses not forgotten. 

"Yours truly, 

" Daniel Webster. 

"Mr. Seaton. 

" These are black fish, sometimes called Tautog. Monica 
cooks them thus : — 

" Put the fish into a pan with a little butter, and let 
them fry till pretty nearly cooked, then put in a little 
wine and pepper and salt, and let them stew. She uses 
no water. A little more wine, pepper, and salt to make a 
good gravy. 

" So says Monica, who stands at my elbow at half past 
five o'clock. A good way also to make agreeable table 
companions of these fellows is to barbecue or broil them 
without splitting. 

" D. W. 

"Confidential and Diplomatic." 

" My dear Sir, — Mrs. Webster leaves in the cars this 
p. m. Speaking of a little basket of one half-dozen peaches 
and two seckle pears, the other evening, — how well-timed 
it would be, if that little basket, contents as aforesaid, 
should meet her at the cars ! 



304 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

" I have the honor, with distinguished consideration, etc., 

etc., 

" Yours, 

"D. Webster. 
" Mr. Seaton." 

' ' Friday Morning. 

" Dear Mrs. Seaton, — As I could not accompany Mr. 
Seaton on his expedition to Piney Point, I hope for the 
subordinate pleasure of listening to his recital of its inci- 
dents, his capture of fishes, his battles with the mosquitoes, 
etc., etc. 

" I wish, therefore, to engage him to dine to-morrow at 
five o'clock here, at the Burdine Mansion, with one or two 
friends only j and I write this to insure your influence on 
the occasion. 

" Mr. Curtis took an abrupt departure last evening, 
leaving messages of love for your household with me. 

" I sent over a letter of Fletcher's, yesterday, and had a 
kind reply from M . But she did not ' catch the idea.' 

" I shall be obliged to come round this evening, and go 
into explanations. 

» "Yours, with the truest regard, 

" Dan'l Webster." 

" Dear W. W. S., — Fish all right for to-morrow. Let 
them bask in Monica's ice-box till the day comes. 

"D. W. 

"5 o'clock." 

"Friday Morning, January 29, 1847. 
" My dear Sir, — There happen to be four of General 
H.'s Cabinet now in town, viz. Messrs. Ewing, Badger, 
Crittenden, and myself. We dine at my house to-morrow 
at five o'clock. Mrs. Webster and Mr. and Mrs. Curtis 
will bring up the number to seven. Our round table holds 
eight. At breakfast this morning we proceeded to elect by 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 305 

ballot a person to take the vacant place, and great was the 
satisfaction when it was found that by general concurrence 
' Colonel Seaton ' was chosen ! It devolves on me to com- 
municate the result to you. 

" Daniel Webster. 
" Colonel Seaton." 

"Wednesday Morning. 
" My dear Sir, — Your leader to-day is Capital. It is 
exactly the thing needed, and that tone must be continued. 
The disturbers of the public peace must be made to feel 
the force of public opinion. 

" Yours, 

"D. W. 

"To Mr. Seaton." 

" I am sitting down, all alone at five o'clock, to a nice 
leg of lamb, etc., and a glass of cool claret — come. 

" D. W." 
"Boston, June 21, 1847. 

" My dear Sir, — We came up from the place of places, 
three days ago, and have inflicted on ourselves a residence 
of that length in Boston; to-day we hasten back to the 

Old Elms and the Sea. Mrs. Webster has received J 's 

letter from New York, and bids me say that she has obeyed 
all its injunctions, requests, and intimations. 

" Our journey was shortened, to our disappointment. Still 
it was pleasant. We saw many new things and many good 
people. I can now talk, like an eyewitness, of cotton- 
fields and rice plantations, turpentine, cypress swamps, and 
alligators. 

" . . . . Think of us at Marshfield, — on our piazza, with 
now and then a grandchild with as, a pond near, where 
' cows may drink and geese may swim,' and Seth Peterson, 
in his red shirt-sleeves, in the distance. Then there is 
green grass, more than we saw in all the South ; and then 

T 



306 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

there is such a chance for rest, and for a good long visit 
from 'tired Nature's sweet restorer.' .... 

" Yours, 

"D. W. 
"To W. W. Seaton, Esq." 

"Saturday, August 27. 
" Mr. Webster wishes much to talk over matters, compare 
notes, etc. Will be ready for a ' little sociality ' on Thurs- 
day. Wishes much to make an effort 'to brighten the 
future,' and will expect the pleasure of a call from Mr. 
Seaton ""to-morrow at three o'clock. It is an early hour, 
but will have the advantage of a long afternoon behind it. 
" You shall have a plain New England dinner, and a New 
England friend or two, besides D. W. and D. F. W. 
" Yours truly, 

"D. Webster." 

"May 2, 1850. 
" Snipe-shooting in mittens, with a heavy overcoat and 
fur cap on, is very amusing. The mercury this morning, 
five o'clock, at 34." 

" Dear Mrs. Seaton, — That you have higher talents 
than belong to good housekeeping, all know ; but that you 
have any more perfect of their kind, I very much doubt. 
My convictions on this head, always firm and strong, were 
rendered still stronger by the admirable piece of salted 
beef which we had the pleasure to receive last Saturday. 
I never tasted better. Some friends were with us from 
New York when it was brought to the table, and they ac- 
knowledged that Manhattan Island could not equal it. I 
was decidedly of the same opinion. It is a wonder if 
Monica, who does not like to be outdone, does not go some 
day and have an interesting conference with your cook. 
She has already intimated as much. 

" If the present had been literally a crust or a crumb 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 307 

from your table, the kindness with which you have offered 
it would make it acceptable. 

" Yours always truly, 

" Daniel Webster." 
"February 17, 1852." 

" A few slices of Marshfield beef, cured last fall, and put 
away for family provision for the year. 

" I have found it a good lunch for the field or the sea ; 
for although it is rather salt, yet gentlemen engaged in those 
employments, I have noticed, are not unwilling to be some- 
times a little dry. 

"D. W. 
" April 30, 1851. 
"W. W. S." 

In September, 1844, a monster Whig meeting was 
held in Boston to ratify the nomination of Mr. Clay 
for the Presidency, in which contest, however, Mr. Polk 
was the victor. Mr. Seaton was one of the delegates 
from Washington on this occasion, and writes thus 
pleasantly of the cordial reception extended to him by 
Northern friends, and especially of his warm greeting 
from Mr. Webster. 

" Boston, Thursday, 7 a. m. 
" . . . . Such was the overflow and jam of every inch of 
space in the hotels, that I had no chance of a place to write. 
I found at first difficulty in obtaining even a bed, at the 
Tremont ; but on learning my name the proprietors kindly 
gave me another person's room. A few moments afterwards 
I met Mr. Choate, who insisted on taking me off to stay 
with him ; but as they had taken some trouble to accommo- 
date me at the hotel, I remained. The whole town I find 
alive and running over. Among the many entertainments 
last night was one at Mr. Winthrop's, to which Choate per- 



308 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

suaded me to go, tired as I was, and unwilling to take the 
trouble of dressing ; but thought you would wish it, and 
acted on the golden rule. I cannot express the cordiality 
with which I was greeted, and have been by all the friends 
I have met. At Mr. Winthrop's, had I been Captain Tyler 
himself, I could not have been made more of. I found there, 
among others, Mr. and Mrs. Grinnell, and the affectionate 
inquiries after you, and the fervent wishes that you were 
here, were very gratifying. Everybody asked for you as if 
you were first in their affections. I have already had more 
invitations to dine than I could make good in a week, — 
Winthrop's, Choate's, a grand banquet at the Mayor's, etc. 
Mr. Webster came up from Marshfield last evening, and was 
expected at Winthrop's, but not being yet well, and an 
arduous day before him, he went to bed early. Having re- 
ceived notice to appear at the Senate Chamber at nine o'clock 
this morning, among the invited guests, to take part in the 
ceremonies, and as I shall be in the throng all day, I rose 
at six, have dressed and taken a stroll before breakfast, and 
have stepped into a bookstore to write this scarcely legible 
letter. It is a glorious, bright morning, and the note of 
preparation is heard on every hand. A great people, these 
Yankees. One thousand Yankee Whigs, from New York, 
left in two steamers yesterday for the celebration, and will 
be here this morning ; and others are pouring in from all 
quarters, fine, respectable-looking men, young and old, — 
like the Jews of old going up to Jerusalem. I wish you 
could have seen the procession of the ' Young Whigs of 
Boston,' last night, with their flambeaux, noble band, and 
thrilling cheers opposite the Tremont House, as they passed. 
Next to yourself, I only wish your brother were here to 
enjoy the sight, and receive the cordial greetings of the good 

men who love and appreciate him 

" God bless you, dear wife " 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 309 

" Boston, Friday Morning. 

". . . . Before setting out for Marshfield, I send you a 
word to advise you of my health and plans merely. Impos- 
sible now to give any account of the many people, things, 
and incidents which have rendered the last twenty-four 
hours so interesting to me. It is worth coming from home 
to be made much of, and certainly in that regard I have 
had everything to gratify me. When I repaired to the 
State House yesterday morning, whither I was escorted by 
Abbott Lawrence, who called on me, I found a number of 
magnates assembled from different parts of the Union, in- 
vited guests. Mr. Webster, President of the day, soon after 
entered, looking magnificent. Several friends who had seen 
him in the morning told me how glad he was that I had 
come, and how anxious to see me. He came up to me in 
the middle of the Senate, and did not hug me, but very like 
it, saying aloud, that there was not another man in the 
whole country he would be so happy to meet here, and 
kindly regretted that you were not with me. Mr. Webster 
told me what he had decided when he heard of my arrival, 
— that it was fixed as any decree of fate, and would be vain 
to say a word against it ; that is, to return with him to 
Marshfield this afternoon, and remain at least until Sunday, 
if I could give him no longer. We therefore dine with Mr. 
Paige at two o'clock, and go thence to Marshfield via Quincy, 
where I wish to stop and see Mr. and Mrs. Adams 

"The day, yesterday, was a glorious one. Such an 
assemblage, and such a magnificent spectacle altogether, I 
never before witnessed. The noblest cavalcade of two thou- 
sand well-mounted men formed a part of the procession. I 
was in an open barouche, next to the first, accompanied by 
Judge Berrien, Mr. Bates, and Cassius M. Clay. We were 
cheered at every pause by the crowd, and Mr. Section and the 
National Intelligencer had some tremendous cheers at one 



310 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

place Mr. Isaac P. Davis has called to say it is 

time to be off. I am writing in the chair and at the table 
of the first Governor Winslow, in the Historical Society's 
rooms, and I think that my scrawl partakes of the antique 
around me, being written with an old steel pen made in the 
time of the Mathers, I should judge. 

" There is an autograph letter of John Cotton open before 
me, about two hundred years old, written to his wife, in 
which he addresses her as ' my dear wife and comfortable 
yoke-fellow.' Take these homely but true words in their 
fullest sense to yourself, my dearest wife, from 
" Your ever affectionate husband, 

" W. W. Seaton." 

The death of Mr. Webster was the severest social 
loss ever sustained by Mr. Seaton. During the pro- 
longed period of their friendship, and of Mr. Webster's 
almost continuous residence at Washington, seldom a 
day passed without the interchange of word or note, 
or social gathering at the house of one or the other. 
Profoundly as Mr. Seaton estimated the calamity to ' 
the country in the withdrawal of the wisdom and 
weight of Mr. Webster's counsels, which acted as a 
breakwater in the headlong tide of American affairs, — 
deeply as he felt the loss to the civilized world of its 
most comprehensive statesmanship and grandest intel- 
lect, — his death was yet more consecrated to Ms affec- 
tions, and it was the friend whose departure was to 
cause henceforward a blank in Mr. Seaton's daily life. 
That he should no more feel the influence of that great 
mind elevating and strengthening his own, should 
never more meet the kindly glance of those huge ejes^ 
nor hear again that voice vibrating to him always in 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 311 

tones of affection and sympathy, moved Mr. Seaton 
to personal and permanent grief. His discriminating 
affection pays the following tribnte to Mr. Webster's 
many-sided greatness : — 

" Washington, January 13, 1859. 

" Dear Sir, — I have had the pleasure to receive the 
invitation which you so obligingly convey to me on behalf 
of the gentlemen of Boston, to unite with them on the 18th 
instant in celebrating the anniversary of the birthday of 
our illustrious countryman, the late Daniel Webster. In 
tendering my best acknowledgments for this mark of cour- 
tesy, I beg to assure you, and those for whom you speak, 
that I feel myself very much honored by such an invitation 
from such a source, and one which I value the more highly, 
placed as it is, on ' the intimate personal relations ' to 
which you are pleased to allude as having existed between 
that great man and myself. 

"Happy should I be to obey a summons so flattering. 
.... If, prompted by the occasion, and yielding to the 
impulse of my own inclinations, I should attempt to speak 
in eulogy of the great statesman whom we revered while 
living, and whose loss the country has not ceased to deplore, 
I might well be deterred from what could not but seem, to 
those amongst whom he lived and died, a work of superer- 
ogation. History has set its seal upon his greatness ; and 
his peerless fame, placed by death beyond the hazards of 
time and the mutations of opinion, is written on the annals 
of his country in characters as bright as they are imperish- 
able. In every branch of the civil service, — whether in 
the Forum, the Senate, or the Cabinet, he displayed at once 
the grandeur and the opulence of his massive intellect. 
The eminence he attained in each of these departments 
could have singly sufficed to fill the measure of any other 
man's ambition. It is Mr. Webster's peculiar distinction to 



312 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

have been equally transcendent in them all. Nor need I 
say to those who, like yourself and your favored associates, 
were admitted to his private friendship, that he was no less 
admirable for the qualities of his heart than imperial in the 
endowments of his mind. If in high debate at the Bar, and 
on the floor of the Senate, he made it doubtful whether he 
more excelled as a jurist or a statesman, his friends might 
almost be pardoned if they postponed both to the genial 
traits which endeared him to them as a man. 

" Renewing to you the expression of my thanks for the 
honor you have done me, I beg leave to add how truly I 
remain, dear sir, your friend and servant, 

" W. W. Seaton. 

"P. Harvey, Esq., Boston.'' 

Amid all the changes of party, and violence of fac- 
tion, or the hostilites pervading even social relations, 
among the respective adherents and opponents of suc- 
cessive administrations, Mr. Seaton's long life was sin- 
gularly unembittered by personal asperities. Neither 
severe editorial stricture upon official action, nor the 
gulf separating him from certain political parties, ever 
prevented the recognition by adversaries of his high- 
toned character. These tributes to his ability and 
candid spirit were sometimes very charmingly paid, as 
on one occasion by Mr. Simon Cameron, at the begin- 
ning of our Civil War, whose official course was, at the 
time, the subject of very stringent animadversion by 
the Intelligencer, but who, on rising to return thanks 
at a St. Andrews festival, said, with much magnanim- 
ity and grace of sentiment : — 

" When the toast of 'Secretary of War' was proposed, I 
had forgotten that it bore any allusion to myself, especially 






A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 313 

when I looked to my left on the face and form of my ven- 
erable friend, Colonel Seaton, who, not many years ago, 
paid me my weekly wages as a journeyman printer in his 
office; who, for more than fifty years, has been one of the 
most earnest and powerful defenders of this free govern- 
ment, and who, with great political sagacity combines a 
parity of character and sincerity of heart, that prove him 
to be a worthy descendant of a brave and noble Scotch 
family." 

Among the prominent statesmen whose political 
principles, so widely divergent from those cherished 
by Mr. Seaton, did not preclude social relations during 
forty years of a very close cordiality, was Mr. Bu- 
chanan. The letters in which he pleasantly speaks of 
their friendship are the more interesting now that the 
earthly and distinguished career of the venerable ex- 
President is also closed. The following is addressed 
to a member of Mr. Seaton's family. 

"Wheatland near Lancaster, June 26, 1862. 

" . . . . Mr. and Mrs. Seaton are associated with my ear- 
liest recollections of Washington, and I shall ever remem- 
ber them with grateful regard. Mr. Seaton's youthful and 
buoyant spirit is worth more than a fortune, and must ren- 
der himself, and those who are near him, happy in his green 
old age. Although he cannot say that, ' In his youth he 
never did apply hot and rebellious liquors to his blood/ 
yet this was always done in the society of choice spirits and 
with Christian moderation. May he yet live a thousand 
years surrounded by troops of friends ! 

11 Had it not been for the troubles of the times, I should 
have passed some months every year of my life in Wash- 
ington. Its society was more agreeable to me than that of 
14 



314 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

any other city I have ever known. How sadly must this 
now be changed ! For my own part, I am tranquil and 
contented, and would be happy in my peaceful home were 
it not for the dreadful condition of the country. Still, I 
have the consolation of reflecting that I did nothing to pro- 
mote, but everything in my power to avoid, the civil war 
now raging. 

" . . . . You are, I trust, mistaken in believing me to 
have been the last of the race of Constitutional Presidents. 
May you live to see many more of them, and be as pros- 
perous and happy in their day as I wish you to be from 
my heart ! 

" I have faith that the kind Providence which sustained 
our forefathers in the days of the Revolution, and has 
from small beginnings made us a great nation, will not 
abandon us in this the hour of our utmost need 

" With sincere and tender regard, I remain 
" Truly your friend, 

"James Buchanan." 

"Wheatland near Lancaster, September 9, 1866. 
" . ... Though unfortunately never identified in political 
action with. Mr. Seaton, I ever entertained for him a high es- 
teem, as well as a warm personal regard. In the good old 
days, when the National Intelligencer was the ablest oracle 
of the Whig party, a difference in political opinion did not 
interfere with friendly social relations. I therefore knew Mr. 
Seaton well in the familiar circle, and have never known a 
more perfect model of a man in private life. Whilst firm 
in his political convictions and able in defending them, by 
his manners and qualities he conciliated and secured the 
esteem and regard of the best of his political opponents. 
In his social relations he was a charming companion. He 
possessed an excellent heart combined with a clear and 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 315 

firm intellect. Having a perfect knowledge of the distin- 
guished men of the day of all political parties, his conver- 
sation was agreeable, racy, and instructive, 

" I shall always remember with the mournful pleasure of 
an aged man the refined and elegant hospitality of his old 

mansion in the happier days of former years 

"With sentiments of warm regard, I remain 
" Sincerely your friend, 

"James Buchanan." 

The following letter may possess an additional in- 
terest from 4he allusion to the famous trial of Judge 
Peck, of which Mr. Buchanan was one of the Man- 
agers ; as the manner of conducting that case was re- 
ferred to as a precedent on the occasion of the recent 
impeachment of President Johnson. 

" St. Petersburg, April 7, 1833. 

" My dear Sir, — I now send you my remarks on pre- 
senting the resolution from the Judiciary Committee for the 
Impeachment of Judge Peck. I should regret very much 
should they arrive too late for the Begister, as it would 
have a very awkward appearance should the debate be pub- 
lished without the introductory observations of the Chair- 
man of the Committee. The greater part of them had been 
written out at length by Mr. Stansberry. Will you be good 
enough to supply the omission of a quotation, consisting of 
one or two sentences in the defence of the Judge, presented 
to the House in the Session of 1829 - 30. Much as I revere 
the independence of the Judiciary, and after a review of 
the case in this land of despotism, I think the Judge's 
acquittal was a strong one. The tribunal was above all 
suspicion. . . . 

" Although I have been treated with much kindness since 
my arrival in St. Petersburg, yet I. feel I shall never be 



316 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

happy except in my native land. My residence abroad, far 
from estranging me from my own country, has made me 
love it much better than ever. Would that our people 
were justly sensible of the blessings they enjoy ! 

" The Emperor of Russia, whatever we may think of his 
conduct towards Poland, is a sovereign to whom his subjects 
are devotedly attached. His private character is without a 
blemish. Indeed, his example, and that of the Empress, 
have done much already to reform the manners of their 
Court. He is, by far, the most able and energetic sov- 
ereign in Europe. I am convinced it is his policy to avoid 
war for the present. I cannot foresee any change in the 
nature of the Belgian question which would induce him to 
assume a hostile attitude. Besides, the character of the 
King of Prussia is a guaranty for the general peace; yet it 
cannot be denied that Europe at present is a magazine of 
powder, and any accidental hand may apply the spark. I 
send you a very important article just published by this 
government in relation to Turkish affairs 

" Will you be kind enough to answer this letter, and give 
me a little news, local and general 1 Remember me with 
kindness and respect to Mrs. Seaton and your family. I 
hope to have the pleasure of again spending happy hours 
in their interesting society. Remember me also to Mr. 
Gales. I write by the minute. . . . 

" Always truly yours, 

"Jajies Buchanan. 

" William W. Seaton, Esq." 

There was, perhaps, no position in which Mr. Seaton 
appeared to greater advantage than as a presiding offi- 
cer. Whether controlling a mass meeting during a 
Presidential campaign, or addressing a more dignified 
assemblage of citizens, or as the chairman of unnum- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 317 

bered anniversary festivities, the duties of the occasion 
were performed with a promptness, unruffled dignity, 
and acceptability rarely surpassed. His love of the 
drama, and early histrionic efforts no doubt contributed 
to the easy declamation, clearness of intonation, and 
quiet, graceful gesture which distinguished him ; and 
adding to these characteristics a felicitous turn of ex- 
pression, and remarkably effective wit, it may be con- 
ceived that his eloquence would call forth invaria- 
ble enthusiasm. His fame in this regard was widely 
spread; and he often was forced to run the gauntlet 
of post-prandial oratory and political meetings, during 
his excursions. In a letter from Cumberland, in 1844, 
while on a shooting expedition, he writes : — 

"I have just had a deputation from the Whigs of this 
good town, saying that, hearing of my presence in their 
midst, they had appointed a meeting of the citizens to- 
morrow to hear an address from me. I had rather fight 
the battle of Bladensburg over again, but of course cannot 
decline the flattering invitation." 

The following little incident, among many others, 
shows the manner in which Mr. Seaton's appearance 
among his fellow-citizens was greeted. The occa- 
sion was a political meeting during the campaign 
of 1860. 

"At this juncture, Colonel Seaton, the venerable yet ac- 
tive editor of the Intelligencer, entered* the room and ad- 
vanced to the stand. As he passed down the aisle he was 
greeted by the most tumultuous cheers, which continued 
unabated for several minutes. When he had reached the 
stand he bowed gracefully to the assemblage, who gave 
three tremendous cheers for the old war-horse.' The 



318 WILLIAM "WINSTON SEATON. 

Colonel was warmly received by the Chair, Mr. Ogle Tay- 
loe, and then turning to the audience, most gracefully ac- 
knowledged the flattering reception which had been ex- 
tended to him, and concluded a spirited address by trust- 
ing that, ' whether present or absent, every one knew that 
he was heart and soul with the party that hoisted the 
Whig and Union flag.'" 

" The first evening assembly I ever attended in Wash- 
ington," writes a prominent litterateur, " was one given by 
Mr. Seaton to his congressional friends. These suppers were 
famous, and worthy of their niche in the social and politi- 
cal annals of the metropolis. The entertainment, though un- 
ostentatious, was marked by perfect taste and elegance, and 
in view of- the men who were thus brought together for an 
hour or two of social enjoyment, it was grand and impos- 
ing. Webster, Clay, and Calhoun were the leading stars 
of the evening, and around them were grouped diploma- 
tists, notable citizens, and a score or two of those whom we 
delight to honor as the representative men of their time. 
With all of them Mr. Seaton was on friendly, generally 
intimate terms ; for as his abilities and high character 
commanded universal respect, so did his affability, gen- 
erous kindliness, and winning manners retain the affection 
of all who knew him socially or in the business walks of 
life." 

In Professor Joseph Henry's beautiful tribute to Mr. 
Seaton the question is asked : — 

" Who can forget Mr. Seaton as host 1 In the gatherings 
about his generous board mingled the cordial welcome and 
that air of an older and better school which constantly 
distinguished him; the kindly and reassuring attention, 
unaffectedly bestowed on the least distinguished guest; 
the colloquial charm, which extended the fame of his hos- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 319 

pitality far beyond the sphere of its exercise. No unim- 
portant part of the charm exercised by Mr. Seaton resided 
in his engaging presence, — in the winning smile, the bright 
eye, the gentle voice, the benignity of a countenance upon 
which a long life of manly effort and kindly purpose had 
left its impress." 

The Hon. A. H. H. Stuart, of Virginia, in writing of 
Mr. Seaton's power of attractiveness, says : — 

"I have always regarded Mr. Seaton as my beau-ideal 
of a true Virginia gentleman, — ' one of the olden time.' 
To sound masculine intellect and a vast fund of information 
upon almost every subject, he united an amenity and a 
grace of manner and expression, which rendered him one 
of the most fascinating and instructive of companions. On 
all questions of difficulty I sought the guidance of his 
counsel ; and in hours of social indulgence there was no one 
who contributed so largely to the enjoyment of his friends. 
I have he,ard him often narrate the most striking and 
piquant incidents connected with our early history, and in- 
tended to illustrate the character of such men as Rufus 
King, Nathaniel Macon, William Wirt, Crawford, and es- 
pecially John Randolph and a host of those giants. 

" But there was nothing sensational about Mr. Seaton. 
He was not a professed colloquialist. He did not talk for. 
effect, nor attempt to make brilliant hits in the game of 
conversation. All that he said flowed like a gentle stream, 
and was intended to minister to the enjoyment of his hear- 
ers, not to display his own great powers." 

" Mr. Seaton had an especial gift as a raconteur" writes 
Governor Henry A. Wise, of Virginia. " He always made 
me think of Sir Walter Scott, in his narratives. He had 
just his genial, manly, open, candid, ingenuous face, and 
could humor a story with almost equal grace and gusto. 



320 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

He was always fresh and natural, simple and truthful, and 
wise without being disquisitive. He was a man to be plain 

and familiar with, and yet to love and honor The 

Biography of i Gales and Seaton ' would be a history of me- 
tropolitan life and journalism during six tenths of a cen- 
tury, embracing the lives of all the distinguished men from 
Mr. Jefferson down to these times, the secrets of Cabinets, 
the scenes and subjects of Congress and of the Supreme 
Court, the tenants of the White House, the cycles of par- 
ties and of public opinion, and all the tones of the social 
circles since 1800. What a mass of various interest such 
a memoir might be made to contain, but it would take 
a Dr. Johnson to write it and years to prepare the ma- 
terials. 

I knew Mr. Seaton from the year 1833, when I first en- 
tered the House of Representatives. I was elected a mem- 
ber of the Jackson party, in favor of the Union and in op- 
position to the then raging doctrine of nullification. This 
brought me in personal affiliation with Mr. Seaton, and 
soon after, the issue of the removal of the public deposits 
from the Bank of the United States brought me in still 
closer affinity with him, and finally the common opposi- 
tion to the party of Mr. Van Buren, called the Loco-Foco 
party, united us together in the new organization called 
the Whigs. That party was truly composed of the old 
Federalists, the more modern American System party, 
headed by Clay and Webster,- the extreme State Rights 
party led by Calhoun, and the old Madisonian portion of 
the Virginia school of Democracy, of which I was always, 
and am still, an humble advocate. 

" This status of mine brought me closer still to Mr. 
Seaton, and he used to pet me much with his counsel and 
a place for my speeches in the Intelligencer. We never ex- 
actly, or even generally, agreed in our politics, or rather in 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 321 

the ground-work of political opinion, but he was a true old 
Virginian. He had begun his career with Mr. Ritchie, 
loved our old commonwealth and her old white-cravat, 
tobacco-chewing people. Mr. Seaton was fond of his gun, 
his pointer dogs, and his manly sports. Do you know that 
I have now a most beautiful descendant of his breed of set- 
ters 1 My boy procured the ancestor pup from Mr. Sea- 
ton's gardener, and Mr. Sergeant asked him for the whole 
pedigree and made my son record it. ... I used to delight 
to talk with Mr. Seaton about past events and the old Ro- 
mans of our country. He told me more of John Randolph 
than I ever got from any one else, except Benjamin Wat- 
kins Leigh. He had a juster view of men and things than 

any one else of my acquaintance The Yankees got 

all my papers and letters. The last letter I had from Mr. 
Seaton was when I was Governor of Virginia, — a long ap- 
peal from himself and others on the John Brown raid. 
That I suppose is now in the State archives. . . . 
" Believe me most truly yours, 

" Henry A. Wise. 
"Richmond, July 10, 1867." 

The world-wide celebrity attaching tq the name of 
Governor Wise as the dispenser of justice to a great 
criminal, renders his reply to the appeal above alluded 
to of especial interest. 

"Boston, October 26, 1859. 
" My dear Sir, — I have written this letter in order that 
it may reach Governor Wise. Perhaps it is asking too 
much to have it sent to him by yourself. But it is on a 
subject which interests us all. There are not too many of 
us ' national ' men left here in Massachusetts, and the ac- 
tion of the court now sitting for the trial of old Brown 
threatens to blot us out forever. But though we are not 
14* u 



322 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

of much account here, we feel that we have a great stake 
in preserving a good understanding with our friends in the 

other sections. 

" Yours very truly, 

" Amos A.- Lawrence. 
"Hon. W. W. Seaton, Washington." 

" Richmond, Va., October 31, 1859. 

" My dear Sir, — Mr. A. Lawrence wrote directly to me, 
and I have replied to him, saying that Brown is in the 
hands of the Judiciary, — that by our laws no man can be 
tried even, without an Examining Court to inquire whether 
he ought to be tried, — that the sitting of this Court, I pre- 
sume, has caused the appearance of suddenness in the pros- 
ecution, — that another, the Circuit Court is now sitting 
upon bis trial, and is competent in ability and fairness to 
try any plea he may put in, — and that the prisoner has all 
protection, even in his impudent defiance of the justico 
which surely should visit robbery, rapine, insurrection, inva- 
sion, murder, and treason. He shall not be rescued on the 
one hand, nor lynched on the other ; and you know Judge 
Parker well enough, to say nothing of our Bar, to assure all 
strangers to our laws and people of the certainty of fair, 
impartial trial ;' and if the prisoner be convicted unduly or 
unjustly, he will be in my hands, as well as in the hands of 
an Appellate Court. And it is, I regret to say, super-ser- 
viceable in Mr. L. to obtrude upon either of us what he 
would do. I can say to him, in reply to such intimations, 
that he will find that I will do whatever I may do, about as 
decisively and obdurately as he could desire, on the one 
hand or the other. I say this, intimately, to you who know 
me well, the more tartly for him, who, I believe was the very 
gentleman who threw the glove in the settlement of Kansas 
per fas aut nefas, — by Sharpe's rifles or otherwise. 

" We are getting impatieut under the folly and fauaticism 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 323 

of the two extremes. Let Mr. L. keep his sympathy for 

those who need it more than Brown does, for either excuse 

for crime or fair justice in its punishment. Let him restrain 

the wicked fanaticism at home, not provoke fools among 

us. You may be assured that justice shall be administered 

calmly and dignifiedly, and its execution shall be tempered 

with due mercy ; and the less intrusion there is from the 

North, the more easily can we act as we ought. 

" Very truly, your friend, 

" Henry A. Wise. 
"W. W. Seaton, Esq., Washington." 

''Richmond, Va., Nov. 1, 1859. 

" My dear Sir, — As I said to you, in mine of the day 
before yesterday, Mr. Lawrence seems to me super-service- 
able in his sympathy for Brown. He, like other conscien- 
tious men at the ftorth, who deem themselves conservative 
too, see that Brown's folly is the result of their own teach- 
ing and preaching, and material aid in money and arms, to 
make war in Kansas. It has come to this outrage on our 
borders, and Brown and his comrades are in danger of exe- 
cution for crimes to which they have been incited by men 
like Mr. Lawrence. They now are troubled for the conse- 
quences for wliich they are responsible in conscience, if not 
in law ; and hence much of their divine sympathy and 
Jiumanity. I would not convict Mr. L. on Forbe's testi- 
mony, but upon Mr. L.'s own sympathy. He is too ready 
in excuse for him, and in distrust of our own judges and 
people. 

" Brown, I am told, is already convicted, and I shall have 
soon to pass upon the record of his trial \ and, therefore, 
can add no more than that I am, 

" Very truly, your friend r 

"♦Henry A. Wise. 

"W. W. Seaton, Esq." 



324 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

For many years it had been Mr. Seaton's ardent desire 
to visit Europe, especially to tread the soil of Great 
Britain, for whose history, constitution, true liberty, 
and glorious people he ever entertained an enthusias- 
tic reverence and regard ; England being peculiarly en- 
deared to him as the birthplace of his wife, while Scot- 
land was the cradle of his own race. The unceasing 
labors of an editorial life had hitherto interposed an 
insurmountable obstacle to the accomplishment of his 
wishes ; but in August, 1855, he took heart of grace, 
and crossing the ocean paid a flying visit to the great 
centres of European interest and civilization. AYith 
his fulness of information derived from sixty years' ex- 
ceptional study of men and events, he was prepared to 
form an enlightened judgment concerning the political 
and social status of European states, and also, as the 
press throughout our country expressed with gratifying 
unanimity, fittingly to represent America as her highest 
embodiment of a gentleman. Unfortunately, owing to 
the very large and scattered family connection through 
which his letters were disseminated, but few memo; 
randa were preserved of his " steeple chase," as he called 
his three months of rapid travel ; during which, at the 
advanced age of seventy-one years, his physical vigor 
and buoyant spirit enabled him to endure more fatigue, 
and to extract more pleasure, than is accomplished by 
many a tourist fifty years younger. 

"London, September 7, 1855. 
" My dearest Wife, — That you may hear from me up 
to the latest hour, I send a brief supplemental letter to mine 

of yesterday We took the cars yesterday morning 

for Richmond, where, at the famous Star and Garter, we 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 325 

were received by our Minister in the warmest manner, who 
accompanied us in our walk over the hill and park, the 
latter consisting of 1,600 acres, and containing some of the 
finest trees I ever beheld. To attempt any description of . 
th'e view from the brow of Richmond Hill — an elevated 
tract overlooking the valley of the Thames for many miles, 
and even including the sight of Windsor towers, eighteen 
miles distant — would be utterly futile for even the highest 
power of pen, — even my friend, Mr. James himself, could 
convey no adequate idea of its beauty : as indeed all de- 
scriptions of natural scenery are failures, — at least, I have 
ever found them so. Accompanying Mr. Buchanan and his 
niece in his carriage, we set out for Hampton Court, calling 
on the way for Sir William and Lady 0., and Miss G., who 
reside in a beautiful place on the bank of the Thames, 

adjoining Garrick's Villa, and near Twickenham 

The palace is a vast extent of Gothic brick building, with 
turrets, courts, corridors without number, all plain and 
unadorned, containing no furniture, except a few histori- 
cal beds, cabinets, etc. The entire suite of the principal 
story — comprising hajls, reception-rooms, staterooms, bed- 
rooms — is filled with pictures, embracing hundreds of por- 
traits, many of which, of eminent men who have illustrated, 
or rather made, British history, interested me much. Tt 
occupied three hours to go the round of this story, dwelling 
on an occasional object more attractive than others, or lin- 
gering at the great windows to admire the most beautiful 
gardens and grounds. In all this review, Sir William was a 
very valuable guide explaining these varied objects of inter- 
est, — though I had the book in my hand, — as he has long 
been familiar with them all. Those gardens and grounds ! 
how they would charm you, and how much did I long for you 
to stroll through them with me ! They are laid out in the 
highest art, kept in exquisite order, filled with parterres and 



326 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

rambles, — everything to delight the eye. But that which 
would have excited your highest admiration was the famous 
black Hamburg grape-vine. If you could but see it \ The 
trunk is nearly as large as my body, is trained under a space 
of glass of more than 2,000 square feet, and depending from 
the vine were 1,600 full-formed and ripening clusters of 
magnificent grapes. The palace and grounds were filled 
with hundreds of people, — among them the boys and girls 
of a London school, — all roaming about and enjoying 

the beauties spread before them On our return, we 

passed Pope's Villa, Strawberry Hill, and the church where 
Pope lies, the tower of which is a striking piece of time-worn 
antiquity. But the parks, — the parks ! the beautiful little 
river, the emerald verdure, and the scores of swans floating 
about fearless of any harm! We reached the Star and 

Garter in time for one of its renowned dinners Mr. 

Buchanan contributed to the gratification of the day in the 
most assiduous, manner, kindly culminating in proposing 
your health at dinner. He offers me every facility in hte 
power, and letters to all the great people in the kingdom ; 
but in using these I shall be very cfcary " 

"Sheffield, Saturday Evening, -September 15. 
" . . . . What a strange thing it appears to me that 
I should ever write you a letter from this place ; yet here I 
am veritably in dingy, smoky Sheffield, so deeply interest- 
ing to me. I reached here late this afternoon and set out 
for the Mount, in search of your Aunt Sarah ; found she 
had gone for a day to Baslow, thirteen miles off; so, after 
a stroll, I have returned to the Royal Hotel to jot down 
some notes of my movements before bed. The old Tontine, 
so associated with the history of your parents and your own 
early recollections, has been pulled down, and a fine market 
is being erected on its site. Sheffield, perhaps you may 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 327 

remember, is surrounded by lofty hills, now greatly im- 
proved, good well-built streets running up their slopes, 
and their tops embellished by handsome villas. One of 
these streets leads up to the Mount, which is ornamented 
with lawns and fine trees, almost a park, descending from 
a grand-looking edifice as long as our post-office, with col- 
umns and porticos, which I supposed to be a palace or public 
institution, until the cab turned into its gate, and I found 
it to be a series of private dwellings, in one of which Mont- 
gomery lived, and Aunt Sarah continues to reside, and of 
whose absence I shall avail myself to go to-morrow to Eck- 

ington I came down to Cambridge from London, and 

had time only for a few hours to go through some of its 
numerous ancient colleges, and the fine old chapel of King's 
College, a beautiful as well as venerable specimen of the 
impressive Gothic style ; but I would rather, if it were pos- 
sible, describe for you the green velvet grounds and groves 
and glades, the magnificent . trees that spread away off in 
front of the colleges, a wilderness of shade, much of it bor- 
dering the beautiful little Cam, with its fine, lofty stone 
bridges, each of them, as seen through the exquisite vistas 
of old willows, elms and limes, oaks and chestnuts, looking 
as grand almost as the Rialto. Passing hither from Cam- 
bridge, I had near views of the great cathedrals of Ely and 
Peterborough, and came through Newark, so dear to us all 
from its association with your father and mother ; and how 
gladly I would have stopped a short time, but it was im- 
possible in this hurried jaunt. Almost the finest mere 
church in England — that is, any one below a cathedral — 
is that of Newark, in which, as you know, your honored 

parents were married I do not think I mentioned 

that, on arriving at Richmond an hour before Mr. Buchanan 
and party, I filled up the time very interestingly by driving 
over to Eton College, and going through its aged and 



o28 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

crumbling cloisters and its noble old chapel. These Gothic 
chapels, with their curiously and richly stained windows, 
their groined and carved ceilings, inspire an ever-fresh in- 
terest. I must to bed, — my eyes are blinking. So good- 
night, my ever dear wife. 

" Sunday Night. — I returned from Eckington at six 
this evening, and have just come in from a visit to the 
venerable Hartshead, so important in family history, and 
familiar to us as household word. Preached it through 
one of the little lanes that communicate from street to 
street, and instantly knew its circular corner and bow-win- 
dow, — not changed in anything, I presume, except the 
marks of age. With what interest I looked at it, and 
thought over so much with which it is wound up in my 
heart. But Eckington ! that precious old hamlet, with what 
feelings did I enter its precincts and walk through its calm 
little churchyard, — the very embodiment of the immortal 
one of the Elegy, — decipher its aged and half-obliterated 
gravestones and pace the aisles of its venerable church ! 
I set out at nine this morning, the train stopping a mile 
and a half from the village. There was no conveyance to 
be had at the station, so, with my overcoat over my arm, I 
made a merit of necessity and walked. And soon the spire 
and time-worn tower of the church hove in view, and the 
bells were ringing the chimes for morning service. How 
sweetly they sounded in the still Sabbath morning, as I ad- 
vanced by road and field path nearer to the village ; and I 
thought how often your dear father had listened to those 
same bells, and with what pleasure .he described the mode 
of ringing the changes, the skill and strength required. 
The good old beadle found me a seat, and the service of 
the old Church has never, I am sure for many a year, been 
so interesting to any participant as was this morning's 
to me. The lessons were read by Mr. Estcourt, a brother 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 320 

of our friend, General Estcourt ; the sermon, preached by a 
clergyman from a distant parish. After service the sex- 
ton accompanied me through the churchyard and pointed 
out the grave of your uncle Thomas Gales, who, I found, 
died July 5, 1787, and those of your aunts, — the inscrip- 
tions on all of which are entirely legible and unimpaired. 
1 cannot express to you how the well-sung hymns in the 
church and the standing • by these old graves affected me. 
I gathered some small memorials of the place, and, after 
chatting with the good sexton and old beadle awhile in the 
nice parlor of the neat, clean little inn close to the church, 
I set forth on my walk to the station. I passed the little 
stream in which the catastrophe happened to your aged 
great-grandfather, and in which your brother Joseph has 
often cast his pin hook, and fancied that I walked the old 
and well-worn path by which your father and mother used 
to take their afternoon stroll to Eckington. I pondered 
these things as I pursued my way, and they so filled my 
thoughts that, had the distance been twice as great, it 

would not have been marked It is bedtime, and I 

have ordered a cab early in the morning to drive to Bas- 
low to see your aunt. So good-night, dear wife. 

■ " Monday Evening. — A most interesting day I have had, 
dear wife. When undressing last night, I received a mes- 
sage from the Mount that your aunt, hearing of my arri- 
val, had returned, and expected me to breakfast this morn- 
ing. So at nine o'clock I found her awaiting me, and I 
was received with the warmth of a mother ; she was much 

affected, and affected me She remembered most 

surprisingly every member of the family, even to the third 
generation. She spoke a good deal of Mr. Montgomery, 
his excellence, his constant friendship and his deep, endur- 
ing affection for your parents and their children I 

intended leaving Sheffield this afternoon for York, but your 



330 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

aunt appeared so gratified by my visit and so reluctant to 
part with me, that I deferred my departure until to-morrow 
and decided to spend the afternoon at far-famed Chatsworth, 
twelve miles from here. I accordingly took a cab to Bars- 
low, and thence walked half a mile or so through the park 
to the palace, for such it may with all propriety be called. 
A part of my drive, for a few miles, lay across the moors, a 
very extensive range of elevated barren country, consisting 
of long, sloping undulations without tree or house, but cov- 
ered with a thick coat of purple heather, with patches of 
green fern that combine to make it look like vast paintings. 
They stretch away into Derbyshire, almost to Manchester, 
and are owned by the nobility, being kept as preserves for 
grouse and partridge, several coveys of which I saw fly 
across the road. But Chatsworth ! its riches and grandeur 
and beauties far surpassed any' previous imaginings. The 
grounds, the gardens, conservatories ; the fountains, the pic- 
turesque, artificial, rocky, rugged cliffs and dells and caves, 
formed of huge rough rocks brought from the mountain 
back, which no one would suppose not to be placed there 
by nature ; the great palmery, a crystal house sixty feet 
high, with exotic trees from all parts of the world, the hot- 
test regions, among them a cocoanut-tree reaching the 
glass dome, — this glass house was built by Sir Joseph Pax- 
ton, and furnished the model for the great Crystal Palace of 
1851 ; then the treasures of art in painting and sculpture 
in the immense galleries of the palace, — all made up a 
spectacle which exceeded even Windsor in its wilderness of 
beauty. The graperies far surpass Hampton Court, and 
their immense extent, the great variety of the fruit, and its 
astonishing size could but interest me. One species, the 
Muscat, or Tokay, I am not certain which, had berries 
more than three inches in circumference. I would have 
given any price for a few of them for you, had they been 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 331 

purchasable and possible to keep. The clusters would 

weigh more than three pounds each, maybe five 

And now, dear wife, having finished this crude, disjointed 
yarn of to-day's proceedings, and it being latej I will ' turn 
in ' and dream of dear home." 

y York, September 20. 
" .... I reached this ancient city yesterday, coming 
round by Lincoln to see its noble old cathedral, hardly 
equalled by any other in England, and the couple of hours 
spent in going through it, conducted by a clever guide, 
richly repay the journey. It is immense in its height and 
proportions, eight or nine hundred years old, its outer walls 
much decayed and crumbled, but like all other ancient 
ecclesiastical houses in England constantly undergoing 
repair and renovation. In one of the cloisters I saw the, 
to me, curiosity of a Roman pavement, some fourteen by 
eight feet, discovered a few years ago in excavating, three 
feet below the surface ; it is composed of small white and 
greenish cubes. While in the cathedral, I had the pleas- 
ure of hearing Great Tom of Lincoln, the largest bell in 
England, boom out the hour. In the afternoon I came 
on to Hull ; and the next day, being the last of three days 
of a great cricket-match between Yorkshire and All England, 
and I never having seen the game, I resolved to spend an 
hour or two on the cricket-ground. The match had excited 
a widespread interest, and an immense number of specta- 
tors gathered. How your dear father delighted to describe 
the game ! It was really an interesting sight. The players 
numbered about thirty, and what fine specimens of men, 
so athletic and well formed ! The day was very warm for 
England, and they were attired in cricket dress. How 
active and skilful they were with the bat and balls ! . . . . 
I have spent three hours in visiting the celebrated York 



332 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

Castle, so connected with family reminiscences, as well 
as deeply interesting from historical association. Of the 
famed castle of William the Conqueror nothing remains but 
the Keep, high up on a steep mound, in the middle of the 
great court made by the surrounding modern prisons and 
court buildings ; and of this nothing is left but its mossy, 
crumbling great walls and embrasures, with no roof, and 
covered all over inside with ivy. But the noble, the mag- 
nificent, thrice glorious old Minster ! who would venture to 
describe it, or the impressions which such a sight for the 
first time beheld produces 1 Westminster Abbey of itself, 
independently of its monuments, cannot vie with it. There 
is more curious and elaborate carving in Lincoln Cathedral 
than in this, but the vastness and grandeur of this great 
shrine rise indeed to the sublime. The ten-o'clock morn- 
ing service, which takes place every day in all cathedrals, 
— honorable custom, — was about to begin, and I stayed 
through it to hear the chanting, accompanied by the power- 
ful organ. I was standing in the centre of the great tran- 
sept, looking up at its impressive height, when the rolling 
volume of harmony struck my ear, and reverberated through 
the clustered columns and aisles and arches of the vast pile. 
The only drawback to these relished enjoyments is that I 
am alone ; that you, dear wife, are not with me to partici- 
pate in them. I have returned to the ' Black Swan ' to post 
up my crude diary " 

An amusing commentary on the ignorance respect- 
ing America, pervading even the educated and higher 
classes in England, was the remark to Mr. Seaton of 
the Governor of York Castle, who, on discovering his 
visitor to be an American, exclaimed, with surprise, 
" Why, you speak English very well." " Yes," quietly 
replied Mr. Seaton, " you speak it pretty well yourself." 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 333 

"Edinburgh, Saturday, September 22. 

" I am able at last, dearest wife, to write you a line from 

the ancient, and most interesting capital of Scotland 

From York we passed through Newcastle and Berwick, — ■ 
the former a manufacturing place, in a deep dell on the 
Tyne, dark and smoky as a hundred great chimneys con- 
stantly vomiting black smoke from its proverbial coals could 
make it, and has in good preservation an old tower of the 
time of William the Conqueror. The second, a walled city 
on the Tweed, a frontier town, which has stood many a siege 
in the border wars of the olden time, and a place of much 
historical interest. On our route we stopped two hours, 
between one train and its successor, to visit Alnwick Castle, 
the ancient seat, as you know, of the Percys, to which there 
is a branch railroad of four miles. It is an extensive and 
impressive specimen of the old feudal stronghold and palace, 
with its high walls and battlements, and towers and moat. 
As the home of Hotspur, and a place of so much importance 
in the civil wars, it could not fail to be interesting. 

" We reached this truly noble city at night. It would be 
impossible to picture to you its great peculiarities and its 
pre-eminent beauties. A deep ravine — now turned to the 
most ornate account by grassy slopes and walks and beds 
of flowers — divides the towering old town from the splen- 
did new. one, — the two looking at each other from opposite 
heights. In a deep walled trench, as it were, in the centre 
of the ravine, and its sweet though narrow grounds, the 
railroad runs, bringing the terminus to the centre of the 
city. When I looked up to the right, towards the old town, 
with its nine and ten storied houses, it appeared like the 
dark face of a perpendicular mountain, with long galleries, 
away up one above the other, of lights, there being noth- 
ing visible in the darkness but these lines of glittering win- 
dows. After coming up to our quarters in the new town 



334 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

I sat until bedtime looking across at the novel and strik- 
ing spectacle. " This morning betimes we were on the 
peak of Calton Hill, enjoying the beautiful and most pic- 
turesque panorama of the city below, the neighboring emi- 
nences of Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags, the high- 
perched old castle on its rocky cliff, all bordered away off, 
as far as the eye could reach, by lovely fields and the high- 
est cultivation. All these points of interest we have vis- 
ited, and such others in the old town as Scott's stories have 
made familiar, and then to Holyrood, — a spot of sad- 
dening, most touching interest. Its faded decorations, its 
gloomy halls, and dilapidated architecture could not be 
viewed without pain, the mind recurring to the periods of 
its brilliancy, and the career of its beautiful, unfortunate, 
and immortal mistress. The once almost peerless chapel is 
roofless, ruined, and in an almost prostrate condition. It 
would be idle, however, to attempt to convey to you an 
idea of these interesting memorials or the emotions they 
produced. I will now take a walk through the charming 
new town and resume my memoranda to-morrow. 

" Sunday, P. M. — . . . . The striking features of this 
noble city, which I have already seen, have convinced me 
that in picturesque beauty there can hardly be any compar- 
able to it, and I am quite prepared to agree with G. that 
in urban elegance the new town has no equal. We have 
heard of Auld Reekie and its noisome streets and closes so 
long, that I was unprepared for the breadth of the famous 
Cannon-gate and High Street of the old town, and the gen- 
eral cleanliness of its thoroughfares. And what a teeming 
population pouring through its wynds, so decent in appear- 
ance, so orderly ! The beauty of the new town, its fine long 
rows of elegant, large, hewn stone houses, the breadth and 
number of its streets, the beauty and richness of its shops 
quite equalling Regent Street, all surpass my previous con- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 335 

ception. ..... We shall set out for Glasgow in the morn- 
ing, via Stirling, and Lochs Katrine and Lomond, making 
it all in one day " 

"Trosachs Hotel, Monday Night. 
" Our progress, dearest wife, is much slower than I ex- 
pected. We left Edinburgh at eight this morning, and 
arriving at Stirling at ten, stopped there two hours to 
view the famous castle and town, the scene of so many ro- 
mantic events in Scottish history. The castle answers 
fully in its lofty position, extent, strength, and picturesque- 
ness to all the views we have had of it ; and there was a 
drill going on within its walls, when we entered, of the 
42d Highland Regiment, originally the celebrated Black 
Watch, in their striking national dress ; that is to say, the 
lower limbs in no costume at all. The regiment itself is 
now in the Crimea, but this was a body of four hundred 
men, enlisted and drilled to send out and fill up the thin- 
ning of its ranks by war. From the battlements we see the 
field of Bannockburn. On our way to Stirling we passed, 
among other objects of interest, the fine ruin of Linlithgow 
Castle, where Mary was born. There is no conveyance from 
Stirling to the lochs except omnibuses and cabs, so in one 
of the latter we reached this heroic region at five, unable 
to proceed farther to-day, the steamer not leaving the head 
of Loch Katrine until the morning. I have taken a long 
walk up the wild and romantic glenfinlass, and also gone 
through the ceremony of tea, and now bring my journal up 
to the close of day " 

"Head of Loch Lomond, Tuesday. 

" We are left here high and dry, for three or four hours, 

until the steamer from below shall call and take us to 

Glasgow. We came over to Loch Katrjne this morning, 

being brought in its little steamer ten miles, up to its head, 



336 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

in an hour, and thither by coach in another hour. When 
lo ! the Loch Loraond steamer will not arrive for some 
hours ; so here we are at the little Scotch inn to kick our 
heels and kill the time as best we may, — which I employ 

in jotting down a line to you The lochs are certainly 

very pretty, and the mountains may be termed grand ; but 
except for the scenes of imaginary incidents made famous 
by Scott 's magic pen, they would scarcely be worth the 
trouble of coming so far to see, by any one so familiar as 
I am with the mountains and lakes, large and small, of our 
own country. The mountains here, of Lomond and Levis, 
are a little higher ; but this celebrated Lake of Lomond 
does not surpass in beauty or grandeur Lake George, and 
there is no story connected with this lake, in all of Scott's 
charming fictions, more thrilling than the one related of 
Lake George in our romance of the Huron Chief, to say 
nothing of the scenes by which that and other of our beau- 
tiful inland seas have been commemorated by Cooper. But 
the Helens and Macgregors, and Fitz-Jameses and Roderick 
Dhus have imparted a classic character and vivid life to 
these mountains which will be perpetuated with all of Brit- 
ish origin. I feel a good deal of it myself, and you may well 
imagine that I could not pass by Falkirk, and Bannockburn, 
and Sheriff Muir without having my interest in the chival- 
ric deeds' enacted on their fields centuries ago keenly ex- 
cited. On our way from Stirling, the post-boy diverged 
from the public road to drive us through the park of Druni- 
mond, — a princely one it is, and such magnificent trees I 
have hardly seen in England. We traversed nearly three 
miles in passing through it on the finest road, made for the 
accommodation of travellers desiring to see the park, as 
well as for the pleasure of the noble owner. But the 
steamer is in sight, so for the present good by, my dearest 
wife. Glasgow will not detain me more than half a day, 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 337 

as there are few objects in that great but manufacturing 
city to keep me longer from Oxford, where my dear home 
letters await me " 

"Glasgow, Wednesday, 2 p. m. 
" We reached here last night, after a raw, cold, uncomfort- 
able voyage down Loch Lomond — which 1 must now ad- 
mit is very fine and its mountains superb — in a miserable 
little crowded steamer, thence by rail and another vile 
steamer on the Clyde, — a dirty stream not twice as wide 
as the Washington Canal. This is a fine city indeed, and 
so full of life and business, with above four hundred thou- 
sand inhabitants, and large, broad, regular, well-paved, and 
clean streets lined with splendid shops. I went through a 
mercantile establishment, Stewart and MacDonald's, — more 
'extensive than Stewart's of New York. I visited of course 
the old cathedral and its remarkable crypt ; but the most 
astonishing things I have looked at here are the great ma- 
chine works of Napier, and the immense iron Cunard 
steamer Persia (four thousand tons), now taking in her vast 
engines, which I went on board to examine ; both were 
truly wonderful. Wishing, for the sake of Mr. Donoho and 
my other Irish friends, to tread the soil of old Ireland, and 
take a look at the Hill of How T th, if nothing more (Donny- 
brook Fair, the great institution of the island, has been 
abolished), without going via England, I shall take the mail 
steamer this evening for Belfast and go on board in a few 
minutes ; so farewell, dearest wife. To-morrow I hope to 
open my eyes on the hills of Antrim, and be able to resume 
my pen at ' Dublin's fair city.' " 

"Dublin, September 27. 
. " After a calm night and a quiet passage across the 
Irish Sea, we reached Belfast at five a. m., and taking the 
cars arrived here at middaj', an hour ago. While wait- 
15 v 



338 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

ing for the train at Belfast, I drove to look at its beautiful 
Queen's College, an extensive and very fine Gothic building 
recently erected. As far as I have seen this place, it is a 
noble city. Sackville Street, on which my hotel is situated, 
is a princely one, finer even than Argyle or other of the 
handsome streets of Glasgow. I write this much before I 
have seen it, as I must mail these disjointed notes for the 

American steamer And now, my dearest wife, 

Heaven bless you and all at our dear home. 
"Ever your affectionate husband, 

"W. W. Seatox." 
"Waterford, Sunday, September 30, 1855. 

" My dear Thomas, — As I have ventured into the land 
of the O'Donohues, — the origin of which patronymic I un- 
derstand to be ' Hy-dun-na-moiJ the ' chiefs of the hill of 
the plains,' meaning the Rock of Cashel, — being, as I have 
said, in the land of that great, ancient race, I think it due 
to report the fact to their representative in the distant 
Hesperia, and therefore while waiting the departure of the 
train which will take me back to Dublin, I occupy the time 
in sending you a few words. 

" I have been in the island but three days, yet have trav- 
elled over not less than six hundred miles of its fine roads, 
— my limited time denying me anything beyond a cursory 
glance at town and country in my rapid movements. I 
came over from Glasgow to Belfast on Thursday morning, 
thence by rail to Dublin ; went through that fine city, in- 
cluding the Phaynix Park (seventeen hundred acres) in the 
afternoon. Friday to Galway (a lively, handsome, busy 
town, and where I saw good old Father Gill) ; thence, as 
there was no ready conveyance across to Limerick, back to 
Dublin. On Saturday morning took " the rail to Cork, one 
hundred and sixty-four miles, and so by Kilmallock, Tip- 
penny, and Clonmel to this city, whence I shall go by the 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 330 

way of Glenvallyvally, Kilkenny, Kildare to Dublin and so 
to Holyhead. So you see my tour has been pretty exten- 
sive, if it has not afforded me opportunity for minute ob- 
servation. As far as I have been able to judge, the country 
fully merits its character for fertility and beauty, and is 
capable of supporting in comfort five times its present popu- 
lation. If inferior to the sister* islands in agricultural beau- 
ty, it is from bad systems of rack-renting, the habits of the 
peasantry, the effect of political agitation, agitators, 'preju- 
dices, and absenteeism. 

" But the late act for selling the encumbered estates will 
work a great revolution in the social condition of Ireland, by 
abolishing the middle-men, and making the actual cultivator 
the only renter and tenant. It has disposed of many large 
estates to new hands, and its good fruits begin already to 
be perceptible in improved cottages, and neatness of hus- 
bandry. Prejudice and suffering have driven so many 
hundreds of thousands away during the. last ten years, as 
to have given a desolate appearance to many parts of the 
country, every mile exhibiting roofless, deserted cabins, and 
neglected fields. Such must necessarily be the aspect of a 
country which has in a few years lost by pestilence, famine, 
and emigration one eighth of its population. This emigra- 
tion, however, has been of vast benefit to our country phys- 
ically; for although the emigrants have most deplorably 
damaged our political interests, they have enabled us to 
execute the great works of internal improvement which 
could not otherwise have been carried out for many years, 
so we must balance the account by placing material advan- 
tage against political detriment. 

" I was surprised at the general level nature of the 
country, at least throughout the midland counties. It Was 
only hilly or mountainous as we approached the coast, with 
two or three exceptions. There is a good deal of stone in 



340 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

some districts, resembling much parts of Massachusetts, 
especially in Galway, the derivative of which, by the way, sig- 
nifies its character, being in the Gaelic, or Celtic, Guallief, — 
stony land. Speaking of Gal way, to show the deserted state 
of some portions of the island, Father Gill mentioned that 
in a .single village in his parish, where ten years ago there 
were twenty occupied cottages, there is now but one, — the 
other nineteen abandoned, roofless, and tumbling down. 
But, as a young man said to me last night in the coffee-room, 
' we have got rid of the agitators and the middle-men, the 
" Encumbered Estates Act " has emancipated the small 
holders, the people are attending to their proper business, 
the country has not for years been so quiet, and it will now, 
God willing, begin to prosper.' He spoke very feelingly, 
and I believe correctly. I have no doubt, from what I have 
seen, that under a proper system four fifths of the island 
might be made a rich garden, equal to England, or even the 
lowlands of Scotland, which surpass, if possible, England 
herself in agricultural beauty. It was melancholy to see 
so many fields between Belfast and Dublin lying waste, 
grown up with thistles and weeds. But a better day is 
dawning for Erin ; she has peace, and will erelong have 
prosperity. I have seen many remains of ancient feudal 
and ecclesiastical grandeur in the ruins of castles and 
abbeys. On the way to Galway I passed Mullingan and 
Athlone and the Curragh of Kildare. I have seen the Hill 
of Howth, and passed old Blarney Castle, where the famous 
and miraculous stone is ; but rail trains have little senti- 
ment, for they would not stop to let me imbibe inspiration 
by a kiss. The national institution of Donnybrook Fair, 
where flourished the ' sprigs of shillelagh and shamrocks so 
green,' and where each b'hoy ' met his friend, and for love 
knocked him down,' no longer exists ; it has been barbar- 
ously abolished. They tried to revive it at another place, 



A B10GKAPHICAL SKETCH. 341 

but it proved a dead failure, as they could not get up five 
fights during the day. Having seen the cfiief natural curi- 
osities of the island, I have also had opportunities of admir- 
ing its great artificial one, for I have been driven in a 
jaunting-car, — the most extraordinary, most awkward, most 
uneasy, and most horrible vehicle that the wit of man ever 
devised. 

" I am writing in full view of, and not fifty yards from, 
an old tower built by the Danes more than a thousand years 
ago as a fort. It is in good preservation, and now used as 

the city prison " 

"London, October 2. 

" I came from Waterford to Dublin on Sunday, stopping 
an hour at Kilkenny. At Oxford I remained two hours 
examining its noble and unrivalled colleges. At Kilkenny 
I saw the grand old castle of Ormond, a baronial residence 
worthy of that great and renowned family. On arriving at 
Dublin I found an invitation from the Lord Lieutenant, Earl 
of Carlisle, to dine at the palace, but it would have detained 

me beyond my time 

" Yours with constant regard, 

"W. W. Seaton. 

"Major Thomas Donoho." 

Mr. Seaton truly appreciated the virtues, the warm 
heart, the instant sensibility, the wit and delicious 
humor of the Irish nature, and in return was enthu- 
siastically regarded by his Irish constituents, who 
found in him personally a beneficent friend, and who 
never forgot that to his large sympathy their famish- 
ing countrymen were indebted for bread. On the 
occasion of a St. Patrick festival, Mr. Seaton thus 
alludes to his glimpse of the " Gem of the Sea " : — 

" Colonel Seaton, who has so frequently officiated at 



342 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

similar celebrations, gave great satisfaction by the graceful 
manner in which he discharged the duties of the Chair. 
The following toast was then offered and drunk with enthu- 
siasm : — 

" ' Colonel W. W. Seaton, the friend of Ireland and Irish- 
men.* The alacrity with which he attends on all occasions 
our national festival, shows that his heart is in the right 
place.' 

" Mr. Seaton ^acknowledged in felicitous terms the honor 
conferred on him, and the compliment which his selec- 
tion as chairman implied. He paid a glowing tribute to St. 
Patrick, whose labors in the cause of civilization and Chris- 
tianity had conferred such lasting benefits on Ireland, and, 
through its men of letters and missionaries, upon all Europe. 
A descendant of Scotchmen, he had nothing in common with 
the people of the sister isle except that he belonged to the 
same Celtic race. He had, however, always felt much 
interest in whatever concerned Irishmen, and during a visit 
to the British Islands a few years ago he passed over from 
the romantic glens and garden lowlands of Scotland to the 
green hills and fertile plains of old Ireland, and during a 
rapid though pretty extensive tour, he was truly glad to find 
everywhere evidences of improved agriculture and returning 
prosperity. He adverted incidentally to some of the causes 
to which he conceived the amelioration of the condition 
of the country was due ; and concluded by expressing his 
pleasure at finding himself once more in festive communion 
with so many to whose support he had been in times past 
largely and repeatedly indebted for the highest honors 
of the city, — honors of which he should ever be proud, 
and which he believed he could say with truth he would 
rather wear again, were he young enough, than even the 
high but harassing ones of Chief Magistrate of the Re- 
public." 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 343 

" Paris, October 5, 9 A. M. 

" My dearest Wife, — My last letter brought my weekly 

report down to yesterday afternoon in London We 

reached Dover at near midnight, and went on board the 
Channel steamer, but she could not get out before 3 a. m., 
when the tide made. It was a rainy, bad, dark night ; the 
boat a little, confined, miserable affair, not larger than one 
of our Alexandria ferry-boats, but strong ; the men's cabin 
not so large as our little front parlor, and into that all the 
male passengers had to stow, from the bad weather on deck ; 
no berths but the cushioned bench seats, and no comfort of 
any kind ; and there we remained packed until we put out 
into a heavy sea, and then for two hours were rolling and 
pitching as if the cockle-shell would roll clean over or go 

under I was ensconced on a sort of upper shelf, 

where I lay witnessing this scene, for sleep w r as impossible, 
and wretched enough, but not the slightest sick. We at 
last got across, and at once took the train, accomplishing in 
nine hours the two hundred miles between Calais and this 
most magnificent, most polished city, the undisputed metrop- 
olis of the world. We drove to the lodgings of our amiable 
and able correspondent, Mr. Mann, who instantly and most 
zealously embarked in my service, and after an hour's indus- 
trious search (for the city is excessively full of strangers, 
and desirable lodgings difficult to find), we succeeded in 
obtaining rooms in the Hotel Choiseul, Rue St. Honore, not 
far from the Place Venddme. 

" We have for four hours visited some of the more strik- 
ing points of this emporium, of the grand and beautiful. 
We walked from the Place Venddme, where stands on the 
lofty and celebrated column the statue of Napoleon the 
First, through street after street of colonnades and grand 
houses to the Place de la Concorde, the Champs Ely sees, 
till it grew to night, and I have returned to bring up for 
you a sketch of my movements 



344 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

" Saturday Night. 
a . . . . Such acquaintances as I have met are as much 
amazed at seeing me in Europe as I am to find myself here \ 
and well they may be. The first one who stumbled over 
me was Mr. H., who, as I was going to a cafe to breakfast, 
suddenly seized me by the shoulders with such a grip that 
I doubted not the police with a lettre de cachet had got me. 
1 Of course I must dine with him,' but this I must decline, 
having no time. An hour after, I met Mme. C. de la B. on 
the boulevard, who was equally astounded at my appari- 
tion and most earnestly cordial My attention of 

course was due to our Minister, whose wife I found at home, 
— her reception-day. Were I her father, she could not 
have given me a warmer welcome, or introduced me to 
her guests .with more empressement ; while for you her in- 
quiries were as affectionate as if for a sister. Mr. M. was 

equally kind They pressed me to drive to-morrow 

to the Bois de Boulogne and dine. The drive I accept, 

dinner decline What, a city it is, in its magnificent 

proportions, finely paved, noble streets, beautiful, lofty, 
cream-colored, finely cut stone houses, its Places, avenues, 
palaces, jardins, grand ancient hotels of the Montmorencis, 
the Guises, and the old historic names ! And the gardens 
of the Luxembourg, the exquisite drives, the ever-shifting 
scene of gay splendor ! The present Emperor has done, 
and is still doing, more to improve and adorn the capital 
than any predecessor. He cuts without hesitation through 
half a mile of an old, confused, crowded district, to open a 
grand avenue to some other, or to continue some beautiful 
street or boulevard, upon which is forthwith erected long 
uniform rows of stone houses. This afternoon I went to 
the 'Exposition Uniuerselle' ; and great it certainly is, for 
exceeding the most labored description to convey an idea of 
its vastness and boundless riches in works of human skill, 



A BIOGRAriUCAL SKETCH. 345 

in every form of fabric, of the loom, of gold, jewels, and 
porcelain, and thousands of art treasures. Shawls I saw 
marked ten thousand francs, and lace dresses fifteen thou- 
sand francs. I should think such exhibitions so likely to 
craze the brain of many women who would have to long in 
vain for such gorgeous attire, that from the mere dictates 
of humanity they ought to be suppressed. But my candle 
is burnt out, and I must bid you good night." 

."Sunday Night. 
" It has rained so steadily all day that I took for granted 
Mrs. M. would not drive, so I assumed our engagement to 
be ex necessitate released ; but I have spent the day as if it 
had been clear. I began my rounds at nine, and we went 
afoot and in cabs to many quarters of the immense city, 
whose greatness and grandeur grow on one at .every step ; 
among other places the Jardin des Plantes and the exten- 
sive galleries of natural history connected with it. Merely 
to enumerate the objects viewed during the day would fa- 
tigue, not interest you, and my midnight chats, as it were, 
permit nothing more in detail ; but I must mention venera- 
ble Notre Dame, the Invalides, Tuileries, and above all for 
a gem of interest, the chapel of St. Louis, — an enclosure, 
above the base, of one entire mass of richly stained glass, 
ancient and modern. It was nearly destroyed in '89 by 
the monsters who broke open the tomb and scattered the 
ashes of Du Guesclin and murdered their queen, but was 
restored by Louis Philippe, and is now undergoing further 
adornment by the present great imperial patron of Paris. 
Good night." 

"Monday Night. 

" Soon after breakfast we set out on our daily tour, the 
morning being occupied with few objects, but of much in- 
terest. The first, Pere la Chaise, the great cemetery for 
the opulent and eminent, and temporarily, three or four 
15* 



346 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

years, for the poor, whose remains after the stipulated time 
are removed. So indeed are those of all others, high and 
low, who have not purchased a ' concession perpetuelle' It 
is strictly a great city of the dead, consisting of long streets 
of handsome vaults, all above ground, like small stone 
lodges of various plans and devices. Every tomb, as you 
know, especially of the more humble, being decorated with 
chaplets of immortelles, supplied by the shops for their sale 
which line the approach to the gates. From the eminence 
of the cemetery we had a fine view of Paris in its noble 

proportions The Bois de Boulogne — for thick 

wood it is and not open park — was destroyed by the in- 
vaders in 1815 for fuel, but was subsequently replanted by 
Louis Philippe, and is now of handsome size. The present 
Emperor has made a grand avenue out of the city to it, 
and has in every way greatly improved and beautified it. 
It is of great extent, several hundred acres, furnishing 
various delightful winding drives over the finest roads, 
which one may pursue for hours without repassing the 
same one I cannot accept these pressing invita- 
tions, kind as they are. Truth to say, in the evening 
I am tired out, and want to dine quietly and enjoy my 

cigar " 

" Tuesday Night. 
" It has rained drearily all day, but I faced the weather 
to visit the tomb of Napoleon, a most gorgeous and most 
impressive object. The body is not yet placed in the splen- 
did porphyry sarcophagus prepared for it, but lies in a small 
grated room, in a plain black marble tomb, with his sword 
and well-known little cocked hat placed before it. Relics do 
not usually have much effect on me, but these personal me- 
morials brought me, in the presence, too, of his actual body, 
in such close proximity to that great, most wonderful man, 
who had in long 3-ears past filled my own soul, as every 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 347 

other, with deep and daily interest, that I could not con- 
template them without emotion, and a good deal of spon- 
taneous moralizing This afternoon we set out for 

the Rhine, and a little tour in Germany. We go at 5 p. m., 
sleep at Epernay to-night, and Manheim to-morrow. I met 
Mr. W. B. H. just now, who nearly devoured me " 

" Manheim, on the Rhine, October 11, 1855. 
" My deakest Wife, — When you read the above date 
you will think I am putting half the globe between us, but in 
these days of steam a score of hundred miles are accom- 
plished as if by magic, and I am now near my extreme point 
from you, and hope in a short time to turn my face home- 
wards. We halted last night at Epernay, a principal town 
in the champagne wine district of France, where I was glad 
to spend an hour or two in viewing the vine fields, the 
character of the fruit, the wine-making, it being the height 
of the vintage, and the great wine-vaults of M. Moet. We 
rose at six, and before seven had ascended a long hill (the 
vineyards are generally on the sides and tops of hills both 
in this country and on the Rhine), and were quickly in a 
field of two hundred acres, among the gatherers. After 
satisfying our curiosity we returned to breakfast, when, hav- 
ing still two hours before the train started, we spent them 
in going through M. Moet's immense vaults. They consist 
-of long arched galleries cut out of the soft chalky stone, two 
sets, one below the other, and their aggregate length is esti- 
mated at six miles, comprehending an area of six acres under- 
ground. There were a million of bottles in the vaults ready 
for exportation, and almost as much more in various stages 
of progress, in bottles, casks, and vast vats. M. Moet 
handed me a silver cup of the juice of the red or tinto cham- 
pagne, as it ran from the press, which was sweet and 
pleasant. They cultivate both the white and the black 
grape for the purpose, but give the preference to the latter, 



348 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

— both kinds being small and sweet, and good table grapes. 
From Epernay we passed through the beautiful and highly 
cultivated country of the Marne, and then across some hills 
to the still lovelier valley and country of the Moselle, a trib- 
utary of the Rhine; and on all the hillsides, for thirty or 
forty miles, as far as our road followed, nothing but grape 
fields. We reached this place, the head of navigation, at ten 
o'clock to-night, but before going to bed make this brief 
record of my peregrinations. A little distance from Metz 
to-day we passed and had a fine view of the remains of a 
Roman aqueduct across the Moselle, of which a hundred or 
two yards and many of its lofty arches are standing entire. 
I did not mention that on reaching Dover, and leaving -it in 
the dark, I missed seeing Shakespeare's cliff, but I passed 
under it through a railway tunnel ! 

" At daybreak we go in a steamer to Cologne, or rather 
for Bonn, a few miles this side, the famous university town, 
where Madame G. is, whom her husband requested me to 
see if I came to the Rhine " 

" Dusseldorf, Saturday Night. 
" L 'homme propose, et Dieu dispose. I little thought, 
when I penned my memoranda at Manheim, that I should 
be no farther on my journey than this place to-night, 
but such is our adverse fortune. We left Manheim at day- 
light, — a dismal, rainy morning ; indeed, it has rained al- 
most constantly from the day I left London, — and came on 
very well for forty or fifty miles, with every prospect of being 
in Cologne by evening ; but it happened to be a Rotterdam 
boat, and stopping at the towns to take in freight, lost so 
much time that at seven o'clock we were still many miles 
from Bonn ; and soon after, the rain made the darkness so 
intense that the captain, afraid to proceed, came to anchor 
till five next morning, thus rendering my visit to Madame 
G. impossible. We spent two hours in driving about the 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 340 

curious old town of Cologne, and in viewing its wonderful 
Cathedral, begun six hundred years ago, but yet unfinished, 
though four hundred workmen are now employed on it, and 
there is a hope that it will be completed in fifteen years. 
While the new portions are going up the old are crumbling 
away with age. The weather destroyed all the romance of 
the Rhine, which was nearly the color of pea-soup, and its 
banks were made dim by the incessant rain. We could dis- 
cern, however, many ruined castles on their rocky peaks, 
and many magnificent views as we passed the mountain por- 
tions. The slopes and mountain-sides were covered with 
grape-vines for a hundred miles or more, — we can hardly 
say vines, however, as both here and in France the vine- 
yards resemble fields of green peas, being not higher, and 

each supported in like manner by sticks I doubt if 

any tourists ever passed a more uncomfortable night on the 
Rhine, — no bedding, and only the bench seat of stuffed 
cushion, and of even that luxury few could get a length, and 
most of the passengers sat up or lolled about all night. 
With Mr. M.'s carpet-bag, and a cushion he found for me, 
I was among the most comfortable, while he sat up all night. 
It rained hard, and the cabin, without fire, was very cold 
and cheerless, — enough so to knock all the poetry about 

the Rhine on the head 

"Berlin, Monday. 
" We left Dusseldorf yesterday morning, dearest wife, and 
reached Magdeburg — so interesting to all juveniles as the 
place of Baron Trenck's imprisonment — about 7 P. m., a 
distance of three hundred miles. It was too late to see any- 
thing of the fortress, as we left it before day to be able to 
stop two or three hours at Potsdam. We arrived at that cele- 
brated residence of the great Frederick at nine, and stayed 
till twelve. We drove out to Sans Souci, and the new palace, 
both built by Frederick ; the former we could only view ex- 



350 WILLIAM WINSTON .SEATON. 

ternally, as the royal family were there, but the latter we 
went through above and below ; and I found it in many 
respects superior to all other palaces I have seen, — I was 
forced to leave Versailles unvisited, ■ — even Windsor itself 
in its state apartments, which are very spacious, and very 
remarkable for their peculiar taste. The paintings are fine, 
many of the great masters ; and everything about the palace 
bespeaks the genius of the great designer. The parks are 
on a commensurate scale, the trees and drives noble ; but 
the lowness and flatness of the land is a serious disadvantage. 
In fact, from the Rhine, rather more than three hundred 
miles, the whole country, with the exception of a small chain 
of hills near the Weser, is as level as a race-course ; much 
of it good and well cultivated, but a good deal thin, poor, 
and sandy. In some districts we passed miles without see- 
ing a single tree, while scattering farm-houses are unknown, 
the cultivators all living in closely built villages or hamlets. 
After leaving the palace -we went to the church where the 
remains of my hero Frederick, and those of his crazy, ruffian 
father, are deposited. We entered the little grated cell 
beneath the pulpit, and found only the two coffins, side by 
side, of thick plain mahogany, but lined, we were told by the 
valet de place, with metallic ones, and, placing my hand on 
the one in which rests the greatest man of his age, I could 
but contrast its plainness with the splendor of that of the 
other great warrior (but his inferior), which I had gazed 
upon a few days before, beneath the dome of the Invalides. 
I was early in life impressed with a great and indelible ad- 
miration for Frederick, as a soldier and a genius, and it never 
yielded precedence even to the exploits of the wonderful 
Corsican. We shall remain here this afternoon to see what 
is most worthy of curiosity ; but there is not very much 
that specially interests me ; for though a fine city, it is 
comparatively new. It is rich in museums, pictures, hos- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 351 

pitals, etc., but these are common to all European capitals ; 
and as I have only time to glance at the infinite multitude 
of such objects, I begin to weary of such cursory sight-see- 
ing. I should have liked much to stop in Brunswick, Han- 
over, and Magdeburg, a few hours in each, but could not 
without losing too much time, or travelling late in the night. 
From this city we shall to-morrow turn to the south, and 
after a day or two in that direction shall set my face to- 
wards England. Now for a drive, and then home to dinner 

at the Hotel de Russie " 

"Tuesday, 11 a. m. 
"This morning I find Mr. Fillmore and Mr. Corcoran 

here, on their way from the south back to France 

I have seen this morning much of the city (it improves on 
examination and is certainly a fine one) and museums, and 
regiments of statues and acres of paintings ; but there ap- 
pears to me a great sameness in these things, similar to 
those in other capitals. If I had time for careful inspec- 
tion, I might perceive great diversity, but for me the ob- 
ject would not be worth the delay, even if I could command 
the time. As I now pass rapidly through these bewildering 
collections, I am only thinking of when the circuit will be 
completed and my voyage home begun. I shall set out in 
an hour for Dresden, that treasure-house of art, and so on to 
my ultima thule. I intended to call on Baron Humboldt, 
but he is absent from Berlin. By the time you read this, 
I hope to be on the ocean wending my way back to my 

dear home and household 

" Your ever devoted husband, 

" W. W. Seaton." 

"Munich, October 23, 1855. 
" My dearest Wife, — My brain is so shaken by three 
successive entire nights without even taking off my coat, and 



352 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

almost without sleep in steamboat and mail- wagons, that 
bath memory and thought are nearly obliterated ; but my 
letter must go in an hour, and I must give you a skeletou 
sketch of my wanderings since we left Berlin, that rather 
insipid though large city. We reached Dresden the same 
night, spent half a day there looking about its pleasant 
streets and parks, and especially its peerless gallery, and its 
vaulted suite of rooms in the old palace filled with every 
variety of rococo, in jewels, gold, and precious stones, uten- 
sils and ten thousand objects of curious beauty; and at 
noon set out for Prague, interesting for its historical asso- 
ciations, its peculiarities, its Oriental cast of character. 
From Dresden the road lay for one hundred miles along 
the banks of the charming Elbe, combining the grand with 
the beautiful. We left Prague early next morning, and, 
passing through Moravia into Austria, arrived at Vienna 
the noble in the evening, and stood on the banks of the 
Danube. That is truly a grand city, with its stately streets, 
its palaces, its pleasure-grounds on the ramparts, in every 
direction, and its magnificent Prater, four miles square, 
composed of parks, woods, drives, walks, glades, — one vista 
of it being two miles long, — its music, gay, happy crowds, 
and brilliant life. Then the palace and beautiful grounds 
and parks of the glorious Schonbrunn. What would 
I not have given for you to stroll through them with 
me ! Among other interesting things I visited the burial 
vaults of the emperors and royal family, all in elaborately 
ornamented bronze coffins, — comprising those of the heroic 
Maria Theresa, the Due de Reichstadt (Napoleon's son), and 
his miserable mother, Maria Louise. 

"On Saturday morning we took the steamer on the Dan- 
ube for Linz, one hundred and thirty miles, to arrive early 
the next morning ; but the fogs compelled the captain to 
stop nearly all night, and we did not reach Linz until the 






A BIOGEAPHICAL SKETCH. 353 

afternoon of next day. There was no bedding on board, 
no accommodation for sleeping, so we lolled about 'on 
chairs all night, cold and comfortless. At Linz we took 
an eil wagen, and driving all night reached Salzburg next 
morning. From this interesting and fortified town we set 
forth in a post- wagon, and after a third night spent on the 
road, without undressing and with only uneasy, disturbed 
snatches of sleep, arrived here at daybreak this morning. 
I have been two hours threading its fine streets, its gal- 
leries and other places of curiosity, and find it a magnifi- 
cent city, highly interesting. I have returned to scratch off 
this brief summary, to be mailed at Augsburg, for which 
place we shall depart in a few moments " 

"Augsburg, 7 p. m. 

" A pleasant ride of two hours in the cars brought us to 

this bijou of an old Byzantine town, through which and 

around its ramparts we drove this afternoon. Its most 

peculiar and quaint old features, surpassing anything I 

have yet seen, would delight J We shall set out 

early in the morning for Lake Constance, take a glance at 
the Alps, turn about for France, remain a day in Paris. 
hasten over to England, run to take a look at Stratford, 
Kenilwbrth, and Stonehenge, thence to Liverpool to embark 
in the Pacific for dear home. I am in great hopes that 
Captain Comstock has secured me a berth in her ; but if 
he have not, I will agree to sleep on the cabin floor or in the 
engine-room, rather than wait for the next steamer. Tell 
J. that I am writing in 'die drei Mooren? the oldest inn 
in Europe, and truly it looks so. Prayers and blessings to 

all " 

"Paris, October 27, 1855. 

" .... I proceed to post up my brief, disjointed notes 
of my wanderings since we left Augsburg, whence we went 
to beautiful Lake Constance, where, as I wished much to 



354 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

get a glimpse of Swiss mountains, instead of turning back 
through Germany by Baden-Baden, we took a steamer up 
the lake, and that night by rail and diligence to Zurich, 
fifty or sixty miles into the country, a curious old town 
on the lovely Zurich's waters. This forced travelling by 
night of course I regret, depriving me of viewing so much 
interesting scenery ; but it is unavoidable. The next 
evening we were in Strasbourg, and went forthwith, our 
only chance, to see by bright moonlight the famous spire of 
its grand cathedral. After a fatiguing run of sixteen hours 
we reached here late last night, where I foimd my precious 
home letters, which so excited me that, notwithstanding my 
prolonged shaking in the cars, and incessant strain, mental 
and bodily, for these past weeks, I could not sleep ; but 
after a cup of good coffee I am quite fresh this morning. I 
am glad to be able to say also that, although it has rained 
or drizzled every day since I left England, and has been con- 
stantly cold as well as wet (they seem to have no concep- 
tion of warm weather here), I have suffered no indispo- 
sition " 

"Monday. 
" I still date from this truly imperial city, but shall leave 
it to-night. Yesterday was raining and cold, but as it would 
be ridiculous to return without seeing Versailles, I went 
thither at 10 a. m., and returned at four. This vast palace 
and magazine of art, unsurpassed, if equalled, in the world, 
was worthy of being the culminating point of my continental 
sight-seeing. The army of statues, the galleries of interest- 
ing portraits, each one a history ; the ornate grounds on 
which art has exhausted itself ! They beggar language as 
they outstrip imagination ! Inclement as was the day, there 
must have been ten thousand Parisians, — the bourgeoisie 
and common people, — carried out in successive hourly 
trains of immense length, filling the galleries and grounds. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 355 

In the evening I dined with Mr. and Mrs. M., — their ear- 
nest and warm kindness, and indeed overwhelming expres- 
sions of affection for you, entirely disconcerted me " 

"London, Wednesday Mght. 
". . . . I visited to-day, for the first time, the gorgeous 
Houses of Parliament, the British Museum, and Sydenham 
Crystal Palace, and had barely time to make my toilet for 
our very agreeable dinner, and, the guests gone, I have only 
a moment to bring up my rough notes " 

" Liverpool, Saturday Morning. 

u Here I am, dearest wife, safe and well, and find a berth 
reserved for me on the fine ship Pacific, Captain Nye, and 
I, most ready and willing and anxious to embark for dear 
home. I reached Salisbury on Thursday evening, was in a 
cab at daybreak yesterday morning for Stonehenge, — eigh- 
teen miles there and back, — so as to be back for the ten- 
o'clock train for Liverpool. Those gigantic and mysterious 
remains of an unknown age and race have always impressed 
me with interest, and there I found them, in silent and soli- 
tary grandeur, on the desolate downs of Wiltshire, render- 
ing no account to mortal intelligence of their age, their 
object, or by whom or what agencies or powers created. I 
got back to Salisbury to breakfast, not only in time for the 
train, but for a rapid view of the cathedral, the most beau- 
tiful externally, I think, which I have seen in England. So 
far, however, from being able to stop at Stratford, I did not 
reach here until midnight, — and now, dearest wife, I must 
get ready to go on board the ship which, by the favor of an 
ever-gracious and good Providence, is to bear me across the 
great waters to her whose prayers, if any can avail, I know 
will secure me safety. Good night. May good angels 
guard you and all my dear household ! " 



356 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

"Sunday, November, 4 p.m. 
" We left Liverpool yesterday afternoon, dearest wife, and 
have been all day steaming along in sight of the Irish coast. 
A fine clear day, but .cold. In a few hours we shall take a 
last look at the shores of Europe and set our faces fairly out 
upon the dark and turbulent Atlantic. Ten days, I trust, 
will give to my eyes the shores of my own dear country, 
where all my treasures are. God grant it, and ever bless 
you." 

In 1859 Mr. and Mrs. Seaton celebrated their 
" golden wedding," an occasion which drew from many 
quarters of the land kind salutations, gifts, floral offer- 
ings, and congratulatory odes, while the public press 
expressed very generally the regard entertained for the 
honored and venerable couple, paying graceful tributes 
to their virtues, and the courtesy and hospitality 
which had, during half a century, crowned their home. 
The two following notes from well-known personages 
are among many recognitions of the anniversary : — 
"Hartford, Conn., May 2, 1859. 

" My dear Sir, — I was delighted to see in the public 
papers that you and your estimable lady had celebrated your 
golden wedding, and I felt moved to place your names in a 
book, where the observance of that beautiful custom is com- 
mended. Having missed the opportunity by which I had 
hoped to transmit the gift, I hesitated whether to send it at 
all, but decide this morning to commit it to the post ; for 
though somewhat behind the date, the sentiments of respect 
and friendship that prompted the tribute are fresh ; and 
with best wishes for your health and happiness, and for 
those of Mrs. Seaton and your children, I remain, 
" Sincerely yours, 

"Lydia Huntley Sigourney. 

«'W. W. Seaton, Esq." 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 357 

11 Geneva, April 4, 1859. 
" Dear Mr. and Mrs. Seaton, — Your 'golden wedding' 
rejoices me and. many more. Its notice in the public 
gazettes is greatly to my enjoyment* It brings, too, the 
reminiscence of our early days in quiet, unpretending pat- 
riotic North Carolina, where I also found a jewel ! this adds 
zest to my greeting. I hope to see both of you again, but 
this is of the uncertainties ; and yet the hope of it being 
a reality by and by enhances my pleasure in recalling me 
to the memory of you both, dear friends. I thank you, W. 
W. S., for your prompt response to my inquiries about a 
dear son, and for your invitation to Washington. 
" While life endures, I am yours, 

" J. G. Swift." 

In August, 1860, the tie which had for forty-eight 
years united the editors of the National Intelligencer 
in so famous, so beneficent, and so close a partnership, 
was severed by the death of Mr. Gales. " The early 
tie which had grown between them at Ealeigh grad- 
ually matured into that more than friendship or 
brotherhood, that oneness and identity of all pur- 
poses, opinions, and interests which ever after existed 
.between them, without a moment's interruption ; and 
which was long, to those who understood it, a rare 
spectacle of that concord and affection so seldom wit- 
nessed, and which could never have come about except 
between men of singular virtues. From the point 
of their editorial union, their stories, like their lives, 
merge with a rare concord into one. They had no 
bickerings, no misunderstanding, no difference of view 
which a consultation did not at once reconcile ; they 
never knew a division of interests ; from their com- 



358 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

mon coffer each always drew whatever he chose, and 
down to the death of Mr. Gales there had never been 
a settlement of accounts between them. What facts 
could better attest, not merely a singular harmony of 
character, but an admirable conformity of virtues ? " * 
Possessed of the most lavish generosity of nature, his 
heart the home of all charitable emotion, Mr. Gales 
was exceedingly beloved by the community in winch 
he had passed so large a portion of his life, his virtues 
being appreciated by the whole country, while the 
columns of the Intelligencer during a period of fifty 
years bear signal evidence of his intellectual and 
journalistic eminence. "A very able writer," says 
Mr. Everett, " there were articles from the pen of Mr. 
Gales which would do credit to the most accomplished 
of his contemporaries, and which were often ascribed 
to different individuals, who from time to time were 
regarded as the clearest thinkers and most vigorous 
writers of the day." 

As an illustration of the rare unity of feeling 
and action subsisting between these brother-editors, 
a prominent journalist related the following incident, 
almost touchingly characteristic of their habit of doing 
good by stealth, and the endeavor of each to bear the 
friendly burden alone. The gentleman in question 
chanced for the moment to be deprived of resources, 
and coming to "Washington naturally turned to that 
asylum for the distressed, the sanctum of his friends 
of the Intelligencer. Mr. Seaton, after discussing the 
prospects for journalistic venture at that time, said, 
" We can offer you nothing satisfactory, and unfortu- 

* Atlantic Monthly, 1$60. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 359 

nately just now our pockets are empty ; but what we 
can do "for ourselves we can do for a friend, and I 
will make a loan which is at your service ; but it is 
a private affair between you and myself, not the firm, 
and I wish that you should not mention the matter 
to Mr. Gales." 

The next morning, a nearly similar conversation 
ensued with Mr. Gales, who also offered to procure the 
aid not in his immediate personal power to advance ; 
but when he proceeded, in almost the very words used 
by Mr. Seaton, to beg that it might be " an affair be- 
tween themselves, and not necessary to be made known 
to Mr. Seaton," the gentleman fairly laughed, and 
noted in his diary this beautiful coincidence of two 
benevolent natures. The hearty, absolute appreciation 
entertained by each of these noble men for the attain- 
ments and virtues of his alter ego was rare in its sin- 
cerity, — Mr. Seaton regarding Mr. Gales with un- 
alterable affection, and respect for his talent, who in 
turn was ever happy in testifying to the ability and 
singularly winning characteristics of his colaborer, — 
" My Lord Duke," as he was fond playfully of styling 
him. A gentleman in alluding to this generosity of 
affection so closely uniting them, writes : " The press, 
in commenting on the ability of the Intelligencer, 
occasionally attributed its leading articles exclusively 
to Mr. Gales, who was exceedingly annoyed at this 
injustice, which only excited Mr. Seaton's amusement. 
I remember more than once finding Mr. Gales quite 
excited on this subject ; and one morning especially 
he was wrought up to great disturbance. ' See this/ 
he said, showing me a paragraph ; ' this paper, in 



360 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

praising our late masterly series of articles, says they 
were written by me. Now I say it is false, for every 
one of them is by Mr. Seaton, and I never could write 
as well as he does.' The controversy was between 
the government organ, edited by a cabinet officer, and 
the Intelligencer, and the editorials in question were 
among the ablest that appeared in that journal during 
General Jackson's administration, being copied more 
extensively probably than any other of that period, 
and admitted even by political opponents to have 
silenced their adversary." 

A month subsequent to the lamented death of Mr. 
Gales, Mr. Seaton announced that thenceforth Mr. 
James C. Welling would be associated with him in 
the. editorial conduct of the Intelligencer, with which 
indeed, during the previous ten years, he had been 
connected ; first, in charge of its literary department, 
after the retirement from that position of the accom- 
plished gentleman and brilliant writer, the late Edward 
William Johnston. " Mr. Welling," adds Mr. Seaton, 
" was the author of those Notes on New Boohs, which, 
by their scholarship and ability, would of themselves 
be a sufficient evidence of the qualifications he brings 
to the tasks of journalism. Enjoying in the fullest 
degree the confidence of my late lamented colleague, 
Mr. Gales, he has equally by his high moral and con- 
scientious character, no less than by his rare attain- 
ments, merited my own." Most ably indeed did Mr. 
Welling meet these flattering expectations. To a 
fulness of matured thought upon every point of theo- 
retical or practical national polity, and an erudition 
ranging through every field of science and literature, 



A BIOGKAPHICAL SKETCH. 361 

Mr. Welling united a force and readiness of discussion 
with an appreciation of the conservative tone and 
dignity characterizing the Intelligencer, which gained 
the marked approval of the constituents of the time- 
honored journal, and amply justified the confidence 
reposed in him by Mr. Seaton. 

The close of the year 1863 brought to Mr. Sea- 
ton the sorrow which was to darken with its heavy 
shadow the remaining days of his pilgrimage. On 
Christmas day he laid in the dust the beloved and 
cherished head of her who had during fifty-four years 
been the " modest yet shining ornament and charm of 
his household. Mr. Seaton's union with the honored 
partner of his life was marked by a mutual tenderness 
so seldom paralleled, by a devotion so chivalrous on 
the one part, a reliance so truthful and unhesitating on 
the other, that it must ever be referred to as the crown 
and complement of his earthly existence. The loveli- 
ness and good report of this conjugal example were 
treasured, it may be said, as a personal pride and 
possession by the community in which for so long a 
period the virtues, the talents, the ineffable grace of 
true womanhood, as exhibited in the person of Mrs. 
Seaton, sustained and cheered the toils of her husband 
in his arduous career." * 

" The chronicle of Mrs. Seaton's life may be said to 
be that of Washington, of which, during wellnigh half- 
a century, she was the recognized head of its highest 
.type of society. Coming to the capital in its infancy, 
she had witnessed its many changes of rulers, and 
strange mutations of social circles, outliving nearly 

* Professor Joseph Henry. 



362 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

all her associates of an era we are wont to call the 
golden one of our republic. Maintaining close friendly 
relations with all that our own country had offered of 
good and great, Mrs. Seaton was equally sought by 
foreigners, who would be drawn to her by their pre- 
decessors' report of her charm of manner, her gifts of 
conversation, and the cordial hospitality that gave her 
home a special place in the memory of all who visited 
it. The sprightliness and felicity of expression mani- 
fested in her domestic correspondence have been 
already seen, and the columns of the Intelligencer 
bore occasional evidence of her graceful pen. Among 
her correspondents, whose notes are filled with thanks 
for kindness bestowed and the expression of their 
friendship, may be found the names of most of the 
learned and notable who have successively played 
their part in public life, and passed from the stage, 
while may be included hospitable and friendly tributes 
from every chief magistrate of the United States, 
except one, since Washington. But Mrs. Seaton's 
highest distinction resided in her moral characteristics, 
her strong intellect and numerous acquirements being 
heightened and beautified by the gentleness, benignity, 
and charity, the unfailing generosity and constant un- 
selfishness, which pervaded the life of this virtuous 
matron, wise and tender mother, incomparable wife, 
and gracious lady. While devoted to her own faith, 
Mrs. Seaton was yet truly catholic in her religious 
love and charity for all Christian persuasions. Wher- 
ever the pure, the virtuous were found, she recognized a 
kindred soul, and yet Unitarians may be permitted to 
rejoice that it was the church of Liberal Christianity 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 363 

that developed a faitli so true, so enduring, vivified by 
active benevolence and good works without which the 
'Faith is dead also.' " * 

The unclasping of the earthly links of this chain of 
wedded happiness was speedily followed by the sever- 
ance of another tie, cherished by Mr. Seaton with just 
pride and fond affection. The National Intelligencer 
of December 31, 1864, announced to the country, in 
a dignified and touching valedictory address, Mr. 
Seaton's retirement from his connection with the press, 
of which he had so long been an illustrious exemplar. 
From every portion of the country came a burst of 
professional and personal tribute to the old man ven- 
erable, around whose name were twined the pride, the 
confidence, the affectionate associations of three gener- 
ations of men, who of themselves, or through tradition, 
had come to regard the editors of the Intelligencer as 
the embodiment of wisdom, truth, benevolence, and 
justice ; who had honored the grand old journal for 
more than half a century, or from boyhood, and who 
now witnessed its extinction with deep emotion. 

" From every part of the land ; from the rugged hills 
of the North, the fertile plains of the South, the broad 
valleys of the West, went forth a loving benison for the 
prosperity and happiness of the then surviving patri- 
arch of the press." 

" If the retrospect of a long life," writes Edward 
Everett, in the last article he ever penned, " usefully 
and honorably devoted to the service of the country 
in the highly responsible relation of a leading journal- 
ist ; if the recollection of confidential intercourse with 

* The Christian Inquirer. 



3G4 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

the most distinguished statesmen of his day and gen- 
eration ; if the warm attachment of troops of friends, 
and the respect of political opponents, can afford a 
solace down the hill of life, few persons could ever be 
better entitled to it than Mr. Seaton, who now bids the 
public a last farewell." " The National Intelligencer," 
continues Mr. Everett, " was at its foundation devoted 
to the support of Mr. Jefferson's administration, its 
politics being consequently what were then called 
c Eepublican,' the epithet ' Democratic ' not having yet 
been accepted by the party of which Mr. Jefferson was 
the leader. During the ' era of good feeling ' which 
followed the war of 1812, and which lasted till the 
second term of President Monroe's administration, the 
Intelligencer, in conformity with the public sentiment 
of the day, gradually dropped its partisan character, 
and assumed that independent, national, and conser- 
vative position which it ever afterwards occupied. 
When the disintegrated fragments of the old parties 
were reorganized under General Jackson, the Intelli- 
gencer gave its support to Adams and Clay and their 
successors in the same line of policy. The Intelli- 
gencer fulfilled one of the highest duties of journalism 
by the careful and elaborate discussions of great na- 
tional questions. Its editors, living in constant per- 
sonal intercourse with the leading minds in all the 
departments of the government, and of the foreign 
legations, were able to treat the most important topics 
of the day, so to say, at first hand, with an unsurpassed 
journalistic breadth of view and weight of authority. 
The length of time for which the editorship of the 
journal was in the same hands gave it a mastery of 
the political traditions of the country." 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. • 3C5 

The following eloquent tribute to the value of the 
Intelligencer was paid while the brother-editors still 
steadily labored at its helm : — 

" Amidst the many popular passions with which nearly 
all have, in our country, run wild, the editors of the Intel- 
ligencer have maintained a perpetual and sage moderation ; 
amidst incessant variations of doctrine, they have preserved 
a memory and a conscience ; in the frequent fluctuations of 
power they have steadily checked the excesses of both 
parties ; and they have never given to either a factious 
opposition or a merely partisan support. Tempering the 
heat of both sides, renationalizing all spirit of section, com- 
batting our propensity to lawlessness at home and aggression 
abroad, the venerable editors have been, all the while, a 
power and safety in the land, no matter who were the rulers. 
Thus it cannot be deemed an American exaggeration to 
declare the opinion as to the influence of the Intelligencer 
over our public councils, that its value is not easily to be 
overrated." * 

A prominent Northern editor thus speaks of this 
setting sun of journalism: — 

- "We have read the touching words in which Colonel 
Seaton takes leave of the patrons of the National Intelli- 
gencer, and we should be something less than human if we 
could read this farewell address without emotion. We can 
hardly recall the time when the names of Gales and Seaton 
were not associated in our minds with solid ability, sterling 
patriotism, sound political views, and eminent decorum and 
propriety of tone. It has been an institution in this land. 
Amid all the storm of faction, it has shone with the same 
serene and steady light, a star of hope and comfort to all 
who loved their country and meant to abide by its Constitu- 

* Atlantic Monthly. 



366 ' WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

tion and laws. It has been consistent, because faithful to 
principle, never strongly partisan, but always manly and in- 
dependent. Since the breaking out of the war, the Intelli- 
gencer has been conducted with unerring prudence and un- 
deviating ability. During the whole period of our civil 
troubles the Intelligencer has discussed the grave political 
problems of the day with an enlightened philosophy, an 
affluence of historical knowledge, and a wise statesmanship, 
that have sometimes caused our admiration to be alloyed 
with regret that such masterly productions were not com- 
mitted to the charge of something less fleeting than the 
columns of a newspaper." 

During the inflamed political and exasperated per- 
sonal agitation incident to the late civil war, unceasing 
evidences of sympathy and approval of the course of 
the Intelligencer reached the editors from many of the 
good and wise. A selection or two from these innu- 
merable testimonials of respect will best express the 
commendation which so greatly cheered a difficult 
patriotism : — 

" Boston, June 27, 1861. 

" Gentlemen, — Please to place my name on the list of 
subscribers to your very valuable paper. I had almost said 
invaluable. Though I have not been in the habit of read- 
ing it regularly, I know its value from the extracts I have 
often seen from its columns, from the soundness of the 
principles it has maintained, and from its regard to truth in 
every sense of the word. As I am now in my eighty-fourth 
year, I may not remain long on your list ; but I shall as 
long as I live, because I consider it very important for the 
national welfare that your paper should be sustained, 
"lam respectfully yours, 

" James Jackson. 

"3 Hamilton Place, Boston." 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 3G7 

"Detroit, July 15, 1861. 
" Dear Sir, — I have read with care and instruction the 
able articles in the Intelligencer upon the impending crisis. 
Their fairness and candor have made a deep impression 
wherever read in this section. Will you permit me to sug- 
gest the propriety of preparing and publishing an article 
on the subject of subjugation. It is entirely misunderstood 
among the Northern masses ; and there is no source from 
which a moderate and well-conceived article would be more 
favorably received, because you are considered by all as 
truly conservative and patriotic. The Northwest is almost 
unanimous in the determination to prosecute the war vigor- 
ously. The excitement has been so intense that many of 
our most considerate and intelligent men have been betrayed 
into rash and unfortunate expressions, which have seriously 
affected the public mind. It is truly surprising to find that 
very many of our citizens, blinded by their passions, are 
misled in regard to the relations which the States bear to 
the general government. They speak and act as if it were 
of no importance to encourage and cultivate the Union feel- 
ing in the South. .They do not reflect that after the Con- 
federates are conquered, the people of the State must govern 
and control its internal affairs ; in other words, they do not 
consider the powers appropriately belonging to the general 
government, and those retained by the States. I think Mr. 
Lincoln made a great mistake in his inaugural and recent 
messages by not more definitely and clearly enunciating his 
views in regard to the future policy to be pursued towards 
the South. There is no doubt that the enlightened public 
mind of the Northwest is for preserving the institutions of 
the South as they are, and when the war closes will will- 
ingly agree to a national convention which may consider all 
the grievances of the different States, real and imaginary, 
and grant the most liberal redress. What then can be the 



368 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

objection to the proclaiming of this policy now, when its 
effect might have such influence upon the masses, at least 
in the border States 1 It does appear to me that something 
of the kind is absolutely necessary as an antidote to Love- 
joy's poison. His movement is repudiated by all our sen- 
sible men, and if this fact could be communicated to the 
South, it might tend to break its force with them. 

" For several years past I have been in a state of political 
retiracy, but still a close observer of passing events. I 
have an abiding faith in the stability of the Union, and al- 
though I almost despair of success from human power, yet 
that God who has so long ruled our destiny will not per- 
mit this fair fabric to be soon destroyed. 
" Dear Sir, truly yours, 

"R. McClelland. 

"W. W. Seaton.Esq." 

"New York, August, 1863. 

" My deae Sie, — I have been greatly encouraged and 
delighted by the perusal of the recent editorials of the In- 
telligencer. It will be a sad day, should it ever arrive, 
when the spring which sends forth such refreshing and 
healing waters shall be sealed. Your review of Whiting's 
letter and the article under the caption of ' Who are the 
enemies of the Union V and that other article, ' The Duty 
of Public Journalists,' are written with masterly ability. 
Persevere, my dear Sir, in this course as long as the public 

will let you 

" Very truly yours, 

"Hieam Ketchum. 

"Colonel. W. W. Seaton." 

"Worcester, Mass., November 25, 1863\ 
" My deae Sie, — I beg to express to you my cordial, 
most respectful and friendly recollections and regard, and 
my acknowledgment of the satisfaction with which, through 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 369 

these anxious and troubled times, I continue to receive 
your ably conducted and patriotic paper. The truly loyal, 
constitutional, and statesmanlike course to which it has so 
nobly adhered commands my admiration ; and it is only 
in the prevalence of the principles which it maintains, the 
certain and speedy suppression of the rebellion, and the 
restoration of the Union, that I can see hope for a return 
of prosperity, peace, and glory to our now bleeding and dis- 
tracted country. 

" Be pleased to offer to such of your family as may honor 
me with their remembrance, the assurance of my grateful 
regards. 

" Very truly, my dear Sir, your obedient servant, 

" Levi Lincoln. 

"Hon. W. W. Seaton." 

"New York, January 4, 1865. 

" My dear Sir, — Having learned through the press of 
your retirement from the National Intelligencer, I feel it 
an agreeable duty to write and congratulate you on the 
termination of a long, laborious, and honorable career ; and 
to express to you my appreciation of your great kindness 
to myself for a period of several years. 

" When I first began to take an interest in public affairs 
the Intelligencer commended itself to my judgment and 
taste by the soundness of its political views, the purity of 
its style, the elevation of its morals, the accuracy of its 
statements, the fulness of its knowledge, and its courtesy 
to all. It was therefore with feelings of just pride that I 
regarded the admission of my own contributions to its col- 
umns, especially as at the time of my earlier efforts I was 
personally unknown to both of its editors. When subse- 
quently I made your acquaintance, I found additional rea- 
son to be grateful to you for the cordiality of your greeting 
16* x 



370 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

and the kindness with which you always welcomed me to 
your sanctum on the occasion of my visits to Washington. 
The conversations then held with you are among my most 

agreeable reminiscences of the Capitol In reviewing 

the many stirring incidents of your eventful past, in recall- 
ing the cherished memories of your fellow-laborers in pub- 
lic and private life, who have gone before you to their rest, 
and in enjoying the repose to which you are fairly entitled, 
you will probably be content to pass the remainder of your 
days. I cannot, however, avoid the hope that you may find 
a pleasant and profitable employment of a portion of your 
time, in collecting and editing such editorials of the Intel- 
ligencer as have from time to time elucidated great ques- 
tions of public law and poliay. Such a work would prove 
a valuable contribution to our political literature 

" Believe me to remain, very respectfully and gratefully 
yours, 

''George Merrill. 

"Colonel W. W. Seaton." 

The following note from the distinguished scholar, 
the author of perhaps the most charming recent book 
of travels, " Six Months in Italy," will be the more in- 
teresting, as having elicited from Mr. Seaton a reply 
most touching in its simple pathos and modest dignity. 
In transmitting this to a friend, Mr. Hillard takes 
occasion to write : — 

" I never was in Washington but once, and Mr. Seaton was 
the first person I went to see. It is now a pleasure to me 

to reflect that I have seen him From my boyhood 

the National Intelligencer was the type of a sound, wise, 
national, conservative journal; and the influence which 
Mr. Seaton thus exerted was wide and most valuable. We 
have fallen upon different times, different journals, differ- 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 371 

ent men, and influence is now only enjoyed by the papers 
and the statesmen that represent extreme opinions. I am 
not one of those who think the change an improvement." 

"Boston, January 3, 1865. 

" My dear Sir, — .... I cannot let the occasion go 
by, without a more immediate and personal acknowledg- 
ment of gratitude and regard. During these last four 
dreary years the Intelligencer has been to me a source of 
comfort, satisfaction, and support beyond expression ; and 
now that you are to leave it, I feel that something of the 
daily light around my path is lessened. My heart is heavy 
unto death at the condition of our beloved land. Clouds 
and darkness rest upon the future, and I don't see the star 
behind the cloud. I do not see any statesmanship at all 
commensurate with the gigantic problems to be solved. 
We are drifting like the Great Eastern after she had lost 
her rudder. It is fearful to think of such interests com- 
mitted to the charge of such small capacities. 

" I wish you and Mr. Welling would come to Boston. 
You should swim in a ' Caspian Sea of soup,' as Sydney 
Smith said of Prescott. Please convey to him an expres- 
sion of my warm regard. 

"Yours faithfully, 

" G. S. Hillard. 

"W. W. Seaton, Esq." 

"Washington, January 9, 1865. 
"Many thanks, my d ear Sir, for your very kind letter, 
the more precious to me, coining as it does from one whose 
good opinion I value so highly. The parting with my old 
paper is painful in the extreme. But the untoward cir- 
cumstances of the times had reduced it to the point of ex- 
tinction, and no alternative was left me but to see it expire, 
or to transfer it to some younger men, who thought that, 



37 Z • WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

by withdrawing it from the arena of politics and converting 
it into a news and business sheet, they could make it pay. 
I would, I confess, have preferred for it the dignity of death ; 
but justice to a few friends around me, who have enabled 
me to sustain it during three years of vainly hoping for 
peace and better times, compelled me to part with it. Pride 
and hope induced me to struggle on against the difficulties 
that beset me, at the sacrifice of everything I possessed ; but 
I was at last obliged to succumb. The loss of two thirds of 
my entire circulation by the secession of the South I could 
have borne ; the proscription of the government I could 
have borne singly ; but the weight of the two united was too 
much for me, and, receiving no compensating support in the 
North, I was forced to yield. In the high character of the 
friends like yourself, who have stood by the old journal in 
its adversity and cheered its editors by their approval and 
support, I find a consolation which I would not exchange 
for better fortune, although I end fifty-two years of labor 
with nothing. 

" Believe me, dear Sir, with the highest respect, your 
grateful friend and servant. ' 

"W. W. Seaton. 

"George S. Millard, Esq., Boston." 

Mr. Seaton's heart was deeply stirred by these mani- 
festations of love, sympathy, and reverence which daily 
reached him from his countrymen. The verdict of 
posterity came to him, as it were, while he yet could 
rejoice in this approval of his labors, while his living 
,ear could catch the voices which rose in unison of 
benediction : " Well done, good and faithful servant." 

The prominent features of Mr. Seaton's career of 
journalism were his candor, fairness, and " an evenness 
and refinement of temper which never allowed him to 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 

question the motives of an adversary." He never tried 
to enhance his own dignity, or the merits of the cause 
he upheld, at the expense of his adversary ; he never 
resorted to factious, belittling strife ; never mistook 
malignant bitterness or detraction for vigor and frank- 
ness, but carried into the editorial arena his innate 
decorum and gracious amenity, which not even the 
acerbities of partisan warfare could disturb. 

The distinguished divine, Dr. Dewey, writing of Mr. 
Seaton, says : — 

" There is one thing in his career that ought to be em- 
phasized, that is, his keeping the Intelligencer free from all 
personalities, not only of abuse, but partisanship. I once 
heard an instance of this dignified forbearance that struck 
me very much. When Webster was candidate for nomina- 
tion before the Baltimore Convention, the Intelligencer was 
silent upon his claims. Day after day passed and not a 
word was said. Mr. Webster was impatient under this neg- 
lect, where he expected help, considering the well-known 
friendly and intimate relations between himself and Mr. 
Seaton, and at length expressed his dissatisfaction. Mr. 
Seaton's answer was this : ' We established and have always 
conducted the Intelligencer as an organ of public intelli- 
gence and general discussion. We have never lent it to 
personal predilections or antipathies. Upon the Intelligen- 
cer as such I have built up my life, and I desire that it 
should bear this honorable record of me, and that it should 
still preserve the same high character after I am gone. 
And I cannot consent that it depart from this rule which 



has always governed me, even to express the friendly in- 
terest that I feel for you? It was a position of great dig- 
nity and firmness to take with such a man and friend as 
Daniel Webster." 



374 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

A gentleman for many years intimate with Mr. 
Seaton thus writes : — 

" The care and high sense of honor which he unceasingly 
exercised in the conduct of the Intelligencer were to me a 
perpetual source of wonder. Coarse and unkind expres- 
sions received no quarter at his hands ; rude personalities 
he utterly abominated ; and his information was so exten- 
sive, so various, as to render it certain that whatever re- 
ceived his editorial sanction would be found new and 
instructive. His integrity was incorruptible. I was pres- 
ent on one occasion in his office when a man used, in vain, 
every argument to obtain from him the insertion of an ad- 
vertisement which Mr. Seaton deemed unfitting for the pure 
columns of the paper. Finally an amount was offered that 
would have made many men waver, but Mr. Seaton's an- 
swer was this : ' Sir, there is not in the world gold enough 
to tempt me to insert in the Intelligencer one line which I 
should be unwilling for my wife and daughters to read.' 
The instances were numerous also in which he was proof 
against the temptation of large sums tendered him for per- 
mission to publish, as editorials, articles which did not em- 
body his real opinions. With a warm, tender heart, he had 
the will and courage of a bold and honest man, who knew 
not what it was to play a double game where principle was 
at stake. 

" Mr. Seaton's modesty reached to a fault, leading him 
to depreciate the abilities so fully recognized by that public 
whose political creed and action he had so materially aided 
to enforce and guide, during sixty years of editorial life. 
He was sound in discrimination, sagacious in his perception 
of the bearing of present measures on future issues; while 
his tact and facility of expression, with the readiness of 
long editorial training, made him an exceptionally effective 
paragraphist ; and in grace and variety as a commentator 
on passing events he was especially happy." 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 375 

"While these tributes from the public came winged 
by all heartfelt aspirations, Mr. Seaton's daily path was 
marked by blessings from those who so long had relied 
on him as friend, counsellor, and benefactor. Where- 
ever he moved, the earnest greeting, the respectful 
recognition from all ranks, attested the almost filial 
love and veneration cherished for the silver-haired old 
man. 

" Mr. Seaton has reached a period of life," concludes 
an editorial eulogist, " in which a man is permitted to 
rest from his labors, and to ' adjust his mantle ere he 
fall.' He is surrounded by ' all that should accompany 
old age/ as ' honor, love, obedience, troops of friends ' ; 
and if love and respect could avert the inevitable stroke, 
he would enjoy a patent of earthly immortality." 

And iioav the end dreAV near, — the mantle was 
adjusted ; and this life of two and fourscore years, so 
replete with all that did honor to our common nature, 
was to close. The indomitable courage, the hopeful 
patience, the gentle sweetness, all the harmonized 
beauty of a noble nature, shone with almost celestial 
light as he neared the golden shore. " Mark the per- 
fect man and behold the upright ; for the end of that 
man is peace." 

Thus, adored, by those nearest him, beloved and 
revered bv his friends, honored through the land, lie 
passed to " a nobler stewardship in the spiritual world," 
crowned by the tears and blessings of the great, the 
wise, the humble, the afflicted, the widow, and the 
orphan, " to whom the withdrawal of Iris earthly 
presence seemed a domestic calamity." 

"Keserved, even reticent in the expression of his 



376 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

feelings, the depth of Mr. Seaton's religious nature was 
hardly known, except as it was manifested in his noble 
life. To the most exalted reverence and awe for the 
Almighty Power, he united in a peculiar degree the 
tender, confiding love of a child. His faith in the 
future was simply, truthful, believing in the recognition 
of friends ; that in one of the ' many mansions ' of the 
Father's house he should be reunited to those loved 
on earth, and, accepted, pardoned, redeemed by God's 
mercy, should continue through eternity to minister 
to His will. Mr. Seaton was one of the founders of 
the Unitarian Church in Washington, being among the 
earliest and most zealous to establish and maintain a 
foothold for liberal Christianity at this advanced out- 
post, and illustrating by his beautiful and blameless 
life the truth of its doctrines. His youth and early 
manhood were passed in the communion of the Epis- 
copal Church, to whose forms he ever remained at- 
tached, frequently reading its impressive services with 
tender reverence ; but his theological views changed, 
founded upon earnest conviction, and he became a 
Unitarian, and communicant of that church, remaining 
firm and unchangeable in his belief of the truth of its 
tenets. A daily student of the Bible, he there found 
his best rest and encouragement, while deeply enjoying 
its sublime poems, which he read with the keenest in- 
tellectual discrimination, as well as devotional fervor." 
Seldom has a living presence been hedged about 
with such an atmosphere of love ; while in the wealth 
of public and private tribute to the memory of this 
good man — " doubly great, for goodness is great- 
ness " — the dominant note is that of a rare personal 
affection. 



A BIOGKAPHICAL SKETCH. 377 

" There have probably not lived many men," says 
the Eev. Mr. Angier in his eulogy of Mr. Seaton, 
"whose characters, public and private, were subject 
to less deduction on the score of defect or incon- 
sistency. But while all tongues proclaim his merits, 
I have yet to hear the first word lisped in dero- 
gation from his claims upon the love and reverence 
of his fellow-citizens ; and the tone in which these are 
spoken of, the evident personal feeling which accom- 
panies the general award, the warm coloring suffusing 
the judicial verdict, bear conviction alike to the judg- 
ment and heart, that we have in contemplation a man 

whom it is not only safe, but wholesome, to praise 

And while Mr. Seaton thus inspired the hearts of all 
who approached him with sentiments of the warmest 
friendship and esteem, who can doubt that many have 
been made good and noble by his generous appreciation 
and encouragement ? Ah ! I doubt it not, how worthy 
of emulation is such a heart and such an example by 
all who would most benefit, by most ennobling their 
fellow-men I am persuaded that a greater in- 
fusion of these generous and tender characteristics of 
our venerated friend into the hearts of all who would 
regenerate and strengthen their fellow-men, would in- 
sure a greater amount of success than usually attends 
the sincerest efforts in their behalf. That the influ- 
ence of Mr. Seaton for these higher interests of men 
was extensively experienced, we cannot doubt ; and 
it becomes, therefore, no wonder that there are so 
many noble . minds to pay him reverence, so many 
loving hearts causing their possessors to rise up and 
call him blessed. Mr. Seaton's character was of a 



378 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

type of which one longs to see more in the com- 
munity, — men not wanting in the sterner qualities of 
the John of the wilderness, preaching repentance, but 
more conspicuous for the qualities of that John whom 
Jesus especially loved, — men, who if they command 
reverence, do not less attract affection ; whom to love 
is as natural and easy as to respect is an obligation 
and duty. With all who knew Mr. Seaton, the heart 
followed easily the approbation of the moral judg- 
ment. Goodness sat on his head as a crown of beauty, 
as attractive in its loveliness as it was commanding in 
its majesty." 

" Why," asks one of his public eulogists, " why this 
sorrow and sadness ? Why these tolling bells and 
emblems of mourning throughout the city ? Why is 
the name of William Winston Seaton on every tongue ? 
Because a good man has left us ; one who served the 
people faithfully and well, whose life was one of use- 
fulness and honor, of whom it has been truly said, 
that he was without an enemy, — a man illustrious in 
all those traits of character, those virtues and graces, 
which go to form the perfect gentleman. Let us re- 
member his patience and equanimity, his dignity and 
courtesy, his impartiality, love of truth and justice, 
his charity and loving-kindness, his temperance and 
forbearance ; let us, in the discharge of our duty, take 
William Winston Seaton as an example, and so may 
we hope that in the end our record may be as bright, 
pure, and angelic as his." 

A member of the Burns Club thus pays a tribute to 
the virtues of his departed colleague : — 

"It seems to me eminently fitting that in a meeting 






A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 379 

of Scotsmen and descendants of Scotsmen,* the death of 
William Winston Seaton should receive such notice as will 
attest at least our sensibility at his loss, and our high ap- 
preciation of his merits. That beloved and revered name, 
it is true, does not now need our commemoration, as it has 
received general and unenvied honors from all classes in this 
community, and our highest eulogy may, perhaps, sound 
like the echo of his wide and undisputed reputation. Yet 
Seaton is a name peculiarly endeared to us ; first, as it is 
thoroughly Scottish ; then as associated with the most vari- 
ous, animating, or affecting recollections — historic, poetic, 
and romantic — of our fatherland ; but most of all from 
the personal character of him we mourn, who made the time- 
honored name of Seaton an acquaintance throughout the 
length and breadth of the land, among all classes, — ' familiar 
in their mouths as household words.' .... But Mr. Sea- 
ton, perhaps, was most remarkable for his smooth, polished, 
Addisonian periods. He was a very graceful and effective 
writer at all times, and often rose to a force of argument 
and earnestness of appeal when great questions of national 
policy came under his consideration, which could scarcely 
have been heightened by any speaker or writer of his times. 
But, great and far-reaching as was his influence through the 
leading metropolitan journal for more than half a century, 
the effect of his character, his conversation, and his counsels 
upon the more active and controlling directors and propa- 
gators of opinion was not less important and extensive, and, 
indeed, cannot be overestimated. Those who have known 
Washington best, are well aware that its society has always 
been a region in which nearly as much is done towards 
.moulding and determining great measures of policy, on the 
part of government or the opposition, as in the halls of Con- 
gress Altogether, the standard in such a circle — 

social, intellectual, moral, and political — is as high as is 



380 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

really ever reached elsewhere. It was in this circle that 
William Winston Seaton, by the magnetism of his personal 
character, so pure, so lofty, so amiable and engaging, by his 
powers of varied and vivacious conversation, by his full in- 
telligence on every question, foreign or domestic, and that 
combination of gifts of manner, tact, and address, the highest 
result of which is best expressed in the word gentleman, 
exercised an influence for years which was felt and recog- 
nized from the centre to the utmost limits of American 
society, abroad as well as at home." 

A distinguished Northern journalist thus touchingly 
dwells on Mr. Seaton's winning traits of character : — 

" In the death of this venerable editor the country has 
sustained a loss for which the only consolation is, that he 
had served all his appointed time, and served well. Eighty 
years of faithful labor is far more than the ordinary contri- 
bution of one man to the good of his fellow-men 

But we cannot part with him or his memory yet. He be- 
longs to us by virtue *of a thousand recollections, for which 
we are indebted to his long life and experience, so that his 
name will always be associated with the best days and 
greatest men of the Republic. There was not living in 
America, two weeks ago, any other man whose mind was 
such a storehouse of the personal history of the giants 04 
old time in American statesmanship. A man of sound judg- 
ment, extensive reading, eminent ability, able to advise and 
direct, but never intruding his advice, he was in every way 
fit to be, as he was, the intimate friend and confidential 
associate of all the eminent statesmen of the past age. 
There is a parlor in Mr. Seaton's old house at Washington, 
which, could its walls speak, would be more eloquent than 
the walls of any other room in America. In that well- 
known room it was for many years the custom for the 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 381 

greatest men in the country, and the representatives of other 
nations, to gather in the freedom of social intercourse ; and 
this may be said with undoubted truth, that in those free 
social conversations and exchanges of thought were born 
many of the great measures of government which added 
lustre to the American name ; so that that room may be 
regarded as the birthplace of much of our national glory. 
We may be pardoned for recalling at this moment the last 
visit which we made to that historic room. It was in the 
midst of the war, and the long evening passed into the 
morning hours, while we sat listening to the venerable 
patriot, as he recited conversations which had been held 
there. Mindful, from many such hours passed with him, of 
the inestimable value of his recollections, we begged him to 
do a public service by allowing a stenographic reporter to 
take down from his lips such of his personal memories as 
he might judge proper and desirable for historical purposes. 
"We had subsequently a correspondence with him on the 
same topic, and it can never cease to be a subject of regret 
that the idea was not earned into operation. But the fail- 
ing health of our aged friend interfered with this last service 
to the world, and forbade its accomplishment. Would that 
those silent walls could give us back the impressions which 
other voices, forever hushed, have made upon them ! If 
there be anything in the theory of the 'conservation of 
forces,' every atom of those walls would furnish a volume of 

history, written there by the voices of the great dead 

But while we lament the loss of the editor, the companion, 
adviser, and friend of the great men of the past, the origi- 
nator and assistant in sb many of the most important political 
events in our history, we more than all lament the man. 
He was rightly loved, for he deserved, and it may be said 
he commanded, affection. None knew him but to love him. 
Over his grave will be shed the tears of no ordinary affec- 



382 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

tion. Nor is it improper here to allude to his devotion to 
the companion of his long life, whose honored head he 
laid in the dust only two years ago, — a devotion which 
marked his whole character, the memory of which makes his 
rest by her side to seem exceedingly welcome. The past is 
fast vanishing out of sight, and the men of our golden age 
are becoming, day by day, part of the land they loved. We 
who survive should better love the dust made up of such 
precious material. Who shall fitly speak the increase in its 
value when we give to it such men as this, our best and 
purest relics of the glorious day ? 

From the far South comes this discriminating esti- 
mate of the value of Mr. Seaton's labors and example : — 

" The files of the noble old Intelligencer are a monument 
which will ever bear testimony to Mr. Seaton's ability, 
courtesy, honesty, truthfulness, and conservatism, and will 
show why his society was prized by the great men who 
adorned our country in its palmy days. For nearly half a 
century he was at the head of one of the most influential 
journals of this or any other country, and nearly up to the 
close of his career gave tone largely to the public opinion 
of the American people. It is seldom that any political 
journal has been under the control of two individuals so 
admirably fitted by genius, education, and practice to im- 
part to it influence and popularity. It is seldom that two 
editors acting together have been characterized by such 
high intellectual endowments and such generosity of tem- 
per. Mr. Seaton was a gentleman in his intercourse, a 
scholar iu his tastes, and American literature always received 
encouragement at his hands, and was advanced by his la- 
bors. No individual was better acquainted with the his- 
tory of his country from the origin of the government, nor 
more familiar with the character, the rise and fall of parties. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 383 

His manners were pre-eminently winning, his conversation 
full of instruction and charm ; and no club-room was ever 
visited with more enthusiasm by statesmen and inquirers of 
all classes, from every portion of the land, solicitors for in- 
formation, than the sanctum of his office. His judgment 
had high influence on all party counsels, policies, and con- 
duct of the day ; while with his rare social qualities, his 
house was the centre of all that was attractive in the me- 
tropolis, including political adversaries, who were, however, 
generally his personal friends. Mr. Seaton was always 
proud of his connection with the ' art preservative of arts,' 
and especially must his loss be regretted by the younger 
members of the profession which he adorned, and for whom 
he ever evinced a parental regard. Many an old printer ' out 
of sorts,' many an old typo worn out in his service, was wel- 
comed each returning Saturday to the Intelligencer office to 
receive his pay, and when the days of the old printer would 
draw to a close, he had the comforting assurance that to 
those dear to him the same generosity would be continued. 
Mr. Seaton's long life was a brilliant success, except in the 
accumulation of wealth, which his integrity, his generosity 
and hospitality prevented. These qualities, united to his 
enlarged statesmanship, his philanthropy, his pure and lofty 
patriotism, commanded for Mr. Seaton the unqualified con- 
sideration and respect of a great party, as well as the sincere 
friendship of so many illustrious men ; and his name and 
fame will be associated with some of the brightest stars that 
adorn the annals of American history." 

In view of these virtues so visibly impressed on Mr. 
Seaton's entire life, the recital of which might almost 
be deemed an exaggeration, one may ask, "Was he 
then perfect ? " A friend who from boyhood to old 
age has spent his daily life in closest knowledge of Mr, 



384 WILLIAM WINSTON SEATON. 

Seaton, replies : " He possessed more of the great and 
good qualities of human nature than any man I ever 
knew ; and never, in my estimation, was there a mortal 
his peer in all that makes man godlike." 

What, then, it may "be asked, was the secret of this 
life of success ? and what may be the value of the les- 
son learned from its teachings ? 

It was not political power or gift of place ; Mr. 
Seaton possessed not these. It was not wealth; for 
his large heart and open hand impoverished his earthly 
store. The forum knew him not ; the halls of legis- 
lation had never echoed to his voice ; he filled no post 
of Cabinet Councillor or Presidential Chair ; he won 
no battles on ensanguined field. True, he possessed a 
stern uprightness that would have guarded the ermine 
with jealous purity, an eloquence to have swayed 
listening Senates, signal administrative ability, an 
intrinsic dignity to have illustrated the highest office, 
rapid intuition, decision, and a cool courage that would 
have placed him high in the rank of military heroes. 
But Mr. Seaton's triumphs were the quiet ones of the 
closet ; his distinctive influence was the subtile one 
emanating purely from personal characteristics, from 
the intangible charm of presence, necessarily impos- 
sible to embody and delineate for the appreciation of 
posterity. The usefulness of his life flowed in a per- 
ennial stream, and in the beneficent tenor of its ex- 
ample, rather than in prominent action or salient 
incident to be segregated for especial record, consists 
its permanent value. His protecting hand was stretched 
out wherever his fellow-men were to be helped ; and 
in the self-abnegation and benevolence of his nature, 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 385 

in the assimilating sympathies which magnetized all 
hearts to go forth to meet him, lay the power which 
he exercised over all who approached him ; simply by ^ 
" the divining-rod of his own goodness," calling forth 
the best qualities of others, — the true secret of all 
noble influence. 

Mr. Seaton was one of the last links between the 
illustrious men who framed our Government, and those 
who make our history of to-day. He had seen Wash- 
ington; had listened to the magic voice of Patrick 
Henry. Can it be wondered that the greatness and 
virtues of the Fathers of the Eepublic should have 
been reflected in him who had touched their mortal 
garments, who had been glorified by their visible 
presence ? 



And thus, undimmed by a single unworthy act, in 
every word and thought of his spotless life a true 
gentleman, duty his watchword, exalted honor his in- 
stinct, Christianity his guide, William Winston Seaton 
bore his historic name untarnished to the grave ; nobly 
illustrating the legend of his family arms : — 

Invia Virtuti Via Nulla. 



THE END. 



Cambridge : Printed by Welch, Bigelow, and Company. 



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